We ARE Struggling Together
[the group whips off their cloaks] Haley:
THE RESISTANCE! Isamu:
Wait — "The Resistance"? I thought we agreed we were going to call ourselves, "The Azure City Underground"? Thanh:
I thought we were going with, "Sapphire Liberation Front". Niu:
I still prefer "Rebel Alliance
The government is evil, decadent, corrupt or all three and it's time for a revolution
. Only one thing stands in the way: your fellow revolutionaries. All of you can agree on only one thing: The government must go. Beyond that, you and your fellow revolutionaries couldn't decide on pizza toppings, let alone the shape of the world to come (or how to get it there). This can lead to squabbling that prevents any coordinated action from taking place...or it can escalate to the point where the different revolutionary factions are spending as much time and energy shooting at each other as they are shooting at the ones in power.
Such factionalism is very common in the real world
, and is usually very depressing, even deadly. Crank it up a notch, and it's comedy gold
This is the 'before' picture of the obsessive bureaucracy. The definitive case where being
right is more important than doing
right (or doing much of anything).
Subtrope of Divided We Fall
, specifically when the separate factions are not just ignoring each other or working in isolation but are actively engaged in conflict with each other. Contrast Enemy Mine
, where two groups of people work together due to one common goal despite other differences in beliefs.
See also A House Divided
, With Us or Against Us
, Misfit Mobilization Moment
, Right Hand Versus Left Hand
, Interservice Rivalry
, Enemy Civil War
. And expect both (if not more) parties to subject each other to Poser Hating
. Also compare Jurisdiction Friction
for when two factions are bickering over a common goal from within one or more government agencies. Compare Not-So-Omniscient Council of Bickering
When it's two heroes of the same cause fighting because they mistake each other for the villain, it's Let's You and Him Fight
. When the heroes are directly manipulated into fighting each other by a villain, it's Divide and Conquer
and/or a False Flag Operation
The many, many Real Life
examples are listed here
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Anime & Manga
- Superheroes in the Marvel Universe since the Civil War have spent about as much time fighting each other as they have fighting super villains.
- In The Dark Knight Strikes Again, The Question and Green Arrow come to blows over whether the new world order should be a Marxist Socialist Utopia, or a Randian Objectivist Utopia.
- In the revival of The Punisher that made him famous again, "Welcome Back, Frank", three copycat vigilantes appear in the wake of the Punisher's return. One's Payback, a guy who targets corrupt rich folks. One's his polar opposite, a well-dressed man called "Elite" who's obsessed with killing people who "dirty" his neighborhood, starting mostly with some minor drug-peddlers moving in but working his way down to hot dog vendors and dogs that make a mess on the sidewalk. Between them is a literally Axe Crazy priest who tends to chop up gang members who confess their crimes in his church. When all three meet up, none of them can decide on how to cooperate. And then when they finally just about figure out how to get along, the Punisher -who doesn't look kindly on copycats- delivers a "Reason You Suck" Speech and shoots all three of them.
- The Defenders, in almost all incarnations, are comprised of people who have almost nothing in common but will still unite to face major threats, often of a magical or supernatural nature. Typical Defenders dialogue consists of a lot of backbiting — sometimes affectionate, sometimes not.
Films — Animation
Films — Live-Action
- In Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings books, the elves, dwarves, and men are constantly squabbling with each other when they should be joining forces to fight the Evil Overlord. Lothlórien's elves distrusts Gimli the dwarf, and so all the Fellowship must go blind into the path to Lórien:
"Alas for the folly of these days!" said Legolas. "Here all are enemies of the one Enemy, and yet I must walk blind, while the sun is merry in the woodland under leaves of gold!"
"Folly it may seem," said Haldir. "Indeed in nothing is the power of the Dark Lord more clearly shown than in the estrangement that divides all those who still oppose him."
- This is taken Up to Eleven in The Silmarillion, where Mandos actually states in a prophecy that the elves will fail to defeat Morgoth because they are too busy fighting each other. 500 years and several million corpses later, he is proved right.
- The Wheel of Time series may as well be called Fighting The Wrong People. While everyone agrees that everyone needs to work together in order to win the imminent Last Battle, most factions are also of the opinion that this needs to happen by them conquering the world. For instance, the Seanchan follow mostly the same prophecy everyone follows - but their version disagrees with everyone else's, maybe by as little as one sentence out of an entire book, so they believe they need to subdue the Dragon Reborn in order to have a chance of winning. The Dragon Reborn controls about half the continent, which required forcibly overcoming many struggling factions, embodying this trope right there. The outcome is predictable. Others such as various Aes Sedai factions see the need to cooperate, but only so long as they control everything behind the scenes (even if it means they have to kidnap and abuse the Chosen One.)
- Lord Vetinari has secretly set up several of the organisations dedicated to his overthrow, in order to keep the real ones busy with infighting. In The Discworld Companion, Vetinari's rule is credited to realizing that even revolutionary anarchists want stability so they can fight their real enemies; people with a slightly different definition of revolutionary anarchy.
- Vetinari doesn't just deal with potential rebellion this way: it's practically his whole political philosophy. "If there are two sides to an issue, see that they quickly become two hundred."
- Further used in Night Watch, when the People's Republic of Treacle Mine Road can't even agree on what they're fighting for beyond "Truth, Justice and Freedom" (those are free, you see). They settle on "Truth, Justice, Freedom, Reasonably-Priced Love and a Hard-Boiled Egg!" Subverted in that they still manage to be an effective fighting force and outright zigzagged because it dosn't actually make any difference if they have a decisive victory or a crushing defeat. The real changes are made far away by The Chessmaster.
- In the Strugatsky Brothers' novel Prisoners of Power, the mind-controlling totalitarian oligarchy is opposed by what may initially seem to be an unified rebel "Underground". However, to quote the novel itself, "the Underground wasn't a political party. What's more, it wasn't even a front of political parties". Its members couldn't even agree as to whether or not the mind control has to go. Factions range from blatant fascists (who want to overthrow the government and keep the mind control towers) to "biologists" (who just want to destroy the towers, but don't mind keeping the government - so they can't even agree about that), and there are factions within factions as well. It is explicitly pointed out that many prominent Underground leaders are either agents or secret allies of the government. The protagonist ultimately doesn't even bother trying to rally them, instead striking a deal with one of the less secure government leaders for inside information, recruiting a few of the more sensible Underground members and blowing up the mind control center without consulting anybody else. It is implied in later Noonverse novels that he and his allies then had to put down rebellions by some of the other groups, even though the country was already a terrible mess by then due to mind control withdrawal and such.
- In The Obernewtyn Chronicles with the main rebellion against the oppressive Council and Herder Faction. The various rebel leaders all act pretty much independently, and have rather different ideas about both methods and what they want to happen afterwards - in particular who will replace the Council. Eventually resolves into Malik and cronies reluctantly and temporarily agreeing with everyone else. Or at least pretending to...
- The Thrawn Trilogy:
- Being the earliest-written look at the New Republic after the Emperor died, shows an unfortunate amount of political jockeying. Most of this can be blamed on Borsk Fey'lya and his attempts to gain power, but he's not alone. Garm Bel Iblis, after Bail Organa's death, had actually split off and formed his own rebellion against the Empire, since he thought Mon Mothma was becoming too authoritarian. One of the many plot points in the trilogy is his realizing that a great deal of her reasoning was due to The Chains of Commanding, and they could work together again.
- Later Star Wars Expanded Universe books have the Empire shatter into squabbling warlords who fight over the true leadership while only weakening each other. In the Jedi Academy Trilogy, the one success Admiral Daala had was in reuniting those fragments and handing them over to Pellaeon after she'd lost a lot of the newly-reformed Empire's forces. Pellaeon worked at keeping the Imperial Remnant together, then decided that it could only survive by making peace with the New Republic. Of course, parts of the Empire didn't agree...
- In Harry Potter, years of Fantastic Racism have caused various magical creatures to be suspicious of wizards and avoid them at all costs (at the same time, wizards are equally suspicious or determined to avoid said magical creatures). Almost all of them are threatened by Voldemort, but aren't really willing to work together until they see that Harry "died" at the end of Deathly Hallows, at which point virtually every living being against Voldemort takes up arms to fight against the Death Eaters. All are later seen gathered peacefully in the Great Hall together.
- To some extent, the Last International in The Star Fraction, which seems to be mainly an umbrella label for all the forces fighting USUN. "...the ultimate conspiracy— nothing BUT front organizations. The fronts are real, the conspiracy isn't."
- The forces of good in the original Chronicles trilogy are hampered in their opposition to the Dragonarmies because their leaders are bickering over political matters that are petty by comparison. It takes drastic action, including Tasslehoff's destruction of the MacGuffin the leaders were fighting over and a "The Reason You Suck" Speech from the leader of the gods of good to get them to smarten up and unite.
- This trope is later inverted after the Dark Queen's defeat, as her subordinates' fear of her kept them in line. Without her uniting presence, the Highlords begin fighting among themselves for control of the Dragonarmies, and become splintered into five mutually hostile factions.
- The situation that prevailed on Barrayar at the beginning of the Vorkosigan Saga:
Aral Vorkosigan: I could take over the universe with this army if I could ever get all their weapons pointed in the same direction.
- In The Stormlight Archive while the Alethi Highprinces are not actively fighting against each other, they are much more focused on outdoing each other and getting wealth and glory then they are on working together in battle, making and pursuing a long-term strategy, and generally winning the war they came to fight.
- In For Whom the Bell Tolls, Hemingway shows us the ragtag coalition of liberals, anarchists and communists that make up the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War, and he hints at the pathological purge-mania of the Stalinists. This is a case of Truth in Television.
- Homage to Catalonia, George Orwell's nonfiction work about the Spanish Civil War, depicts the same thing as in the For Whom the Bell Tolls example.
- The Republican-SJC coalition in Bug Jack Barron.
- The underground in William Rotsler's To The Land Of The Electric Angel, which comprises everyone from the Pope to free-love hedonists. They actually pull off a successful revolution under the protagonist (who gets elected Pope so he can lead the uprising, and thereafter has to answer "Is the Pope Catholic?" with "No".
- In The Left Hand of Darkness, Estraven cites the "old proverb" (which Genly suspects he made up himself) that "Karhide is not a nation but a family quarrel." Ironically, the main villain is the one trying to do something about this.
- Darkness at Noon has a flashback to Rubashov excommunicating a Party member for suggesting that revolutionaries should make common cause with more moderate opponents of tyrannical regimes.
- The Capitol uses this to their advantage through their cruel ritual of The Hunger Games. The Hunger Games were, in fact, first employed because the thirteen districts rose up against their oppressors. After they were thwarted, ending with the total annihilation of District Thirteen, the Capitol decreed that each district had to send one boy and one girl to an arena where they would fight to death and only one could survive. Understandably, all the districts despise the Capitol for what they do to them and their children... however, the Hunger Games became so ritualistic that the districts are more preoccupied with training their chosen children so that one of them can survive and beat the kids from the rivaling districts, rather than trying to overthrow the Capitol and end the oppression once and for all.
- The first Martian Revolution in the Red Mars Trilogy fits this trope to a T. The general disorganization of the revolution leads to catastrophic destruction, the death of several main characters, and the total retreat of all rebels into hiding. This failed revolution is what makes them get it right the second time.
- Discussed in The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress. Professor Bernardo de la Paz, the brains behind La Résistance, advocates using a cell system, with no more than three members per cell even at the very top echelon, because in his words more than three people can't agree what to eat for dinner, let alone how to fight a revolution. Much later in the book, when Manny seeks advice from an ad hoc council of people he respects, he finds himself agreeing with Prof as they all begin bickering.
- Julian: Libanius and Priscus intend to write a biography to help combat the rising tide of Christianity in Europe... if they can agree on who pays what to copy the manuscript.
- The Resistance Trilogy by Clive Egleton depicts La Résistance to a Soviet-occupied Britain. In the final novel the Soviets are pulling out of Britain due to war with China. This should be a time of victory, but instead the 'moderate' wing forms an alliance with The Quisling government to eliminate their hardline members (including the protagonist).
- A Song of Ice and Fire: A major problem during the War of the Five Kings. Nobody likes the Lannisters, and while some of the kings do try to make alliances the other side is never willing to cooperate. Stannis attempts to ally with his younger brother Renly, accurately citing that he (Stannis) has the proper claim anyway. Renly essentially replies "no one wants you as a king (including yourself), I do want to be king and am popular enough to do it, and I have the biggest army." Robb Stark tries to make alliances with both Stannis and Renly, and even Balon Greyjoy, but Stannis sees Robb declaring Northern Independence as treason, Robb himself wont give up his own crown, and Balon sneak attacks the North due to a (misplaced) grudge he had against Robb's dead father. All of which allows the Lannisters to win.
- Comes up again in A Dance with Dragons. Jon Snow, having become Lord Commander of the Night's Watch allows and encourages the Wildlings to come through the Wall and into the Seven Kingdoms. He does so because he realizes that every Wildling on the other side of the wall will become another Wight they will have to fight. Most of the Wildlings see his logic, but his own brothers in the Night's Watch only see this as him breaking traditions and vows.
- In the web-novel Domina, the cultures of the city have been fighting each other for a very very long time, and the fact that there's some sort of supernatural zombie master running around isn't going to stop them. One of the running subplots is the local Reasonable Authority Figure trying to get everyone to understand exactly how dangerous the enemy is, with slow success. The worst is probably the Nosferatu vampires; two broods were fighting when they were attacked by screamers, and it didn't even slow them down.
Adam: This is the same city where people were perfectly willing to fight a civil war while a zombie apocalypse dropped on their heads.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine mentions that after the Cardassian occupation ended, Bajoran factions that had fought in unity against them began struggling for power. A good portion of the first couple seasons talked about how "provisional" the Provisional Government was, at the second season began with an attempted coup against them.
- The Cardassian Resistance during the Dominion War had some cracks in it, mainly between hard-liners who wanted to just reinstall the old Cardassian Union and the faction led by Damar that understood the old government's corruptions allowed the Dominion in.
- The West Wing:
- In one episode Toby is assigned to show up at a townhall meeting for anti-globalization protesters, who are depicted as people being more in love with the sound of their own loudly expressed self-righteous outrage than the actual issues at hand. Within seconds of Toby introducing himself and being asked the first question, the audience start shouting over the top of each other, before the entire gathering degenerates into chaos and splinter groups in-fighting with each other. Toby, for his part, watches with amusement until he gets bored and leaves, everyone having forgotten he was there. Of course, this being The West Wing, he later goes back in and blows them out of the water with a speech we only get to hear about from Josh.
- Season 6 of the show focuses on the build up to the party primary elections to decide who each party's next candidate for President will be. A key running theme is the fractured bickering between the various factions of the Democratic party, represented by three major candidates for President, versus the Republicans unifying relatively quickly behind their candidate. It culminates in a chaotic convention wherein no candidate can get a clear majority over the others and then one of the state governors tries to get themselves nominated from the floor, thus splintering things even further. Eventually provides a subversion in that the Democratic candidate who eventually manages to knock enough heads together to get themselves nominated ends up rallying and winning the election, albeit narrowly.
- Several episodes of 'Allo 'Allo! are based on the (historically based—see the WW2 entry below for more information) rivalry between De Gaulle's Resistance and the Communist Resistance.
- A few episodes of Stargate SG-1 deal with the attempts at a Tok'ra/Jaffa alliance. Essentially, what it boiled down to was the Jaffa couldn't see the differences between Tok'ra and Goa'uld, and the Tok'ra couldn't see the differences between a Jaffa serving a Goa'uld and a Free Jaffa. This caused problems.
- On Stargate Atlantis, this was the basic history behind the Wraith civil war. Atlantis appears? Blast it. Not enough food? Blast each other so that there IS enough for those left. Replicators killing our food? Blast them then resume blasting each other per point 2. We have some Atlantean buddies? Recruit them to help us with point 2.
- On Entourage, Ari Gold's marriage is about as turbulent as any given war and yet they've remained together. "When we got married we agreed to suffer this monogamy together baby!"
- Yes, Minister:
- Sir Humphrey argues that this trope is essentially how Britain managed the liberation of its former colonies through partition — in dividing the territories (such as Northern Ireland and Eire, or India and Pakistan), the idea was that they'd spend more time bickering with each other and less time taking shots at Britain.
- He also asserts that after Britain failed to break up the EEC from the outside, they resorted to joining it, as from the inside "We can make a complete dog's breakfast of the whole thing. We have now set the Germans against the French, the French against the Italians, the Italians against the Dutch... and the Foreign Office is terribly happy. It's just like old times."
Religion and Mythology
- In The Bible, Korah leads a revolt of Levites who object to Aaron being the High Priest; Moses responds by saying that God will do a miracle for the person He picks, and holds a contest where all 250 rebels and Aaron compete. Some commentators have noted the hypocrisy here: all of them ally against Aaron, yet each clearly thinks that he's more worthy than his fellow rebels.
- Dungeons & Dragons:
- The Blood War contains a fair bit of this. The Chaotic Evil Demons would be a much greater threat to the Lawful Evil Devils if they weren't so keen on fighting that they turned on each other at the drop of the proverbial hat. For the Devils' part there's a fair bit of resentment simmering between many of the Archdevils, which Asmodeus, Magnificent Bastard that he is, subtly encourages so that none of them ever decide to ally together and overthrow him. The Celestials also try to ensure the blood war continues, reasoning that as long as the evils are fighting each other, they're not trying to destroy the heavens.
- More generally, the forces of good and evil in many D&D settings are also like this. The good guys, such as they are, can easily bicker and snipe with each other over their own personal or political interests, allowing the villains to gain in strength. This tends to be balanced by the fact that the bad guys can just as easily be at each other's throats, whether through an Enemy Civil War or just plain Evil Versus Evil.
- The Scarlet Empress actually encouraged this infighting among her subordinate governing and administrating organizations, so that they would be unable to effectively overthrow her and have the less-than-instant decision-making process of a multi-person body give the enemies of Creation time to re-invade. Which was all well and good, until she disappeared...
- Which is the smallest cast on the trope in the setting. On a grander scale, Creation, the normal world that is, has at least three whole groups of mortal enemies roughly as strong as itself, bent on it's destruction; that is, Old Unseated Gods, Old Dead Gods (who, being dead but unable to cease to exist, just wish for everything to cease to exist so they too can) and Mutating Energies Of Aether. Creation would be surely doomed if only those three forces wouldn't hate each other with roughly the same passion and fight on every opportunity, because their image of what should be are so different. Only two times in history have two of those forces seriously joined an effort against Creation, and both times they did landed a mighty blow. Ironically, the first attempt still in many parts failed because of poor coordination. (Mutating Energies attacked lands struck with super-Plague engineered by Dead Gods; they really should have made sure all of Creation's defenses were down...)
- Hunter: The Vigil:
- Hunters in general are prone to doing this, since any two cells are likely to have very different ideas on what they are hunting, why, and how. Going up the higher tiers doesn't improve matters. At the Compact level, you have things like the Long Nightnote vs. Null Mysteriisnote , or the Unionnote vs. the Barett Commissionnote , or more active Compacts hating on Network Zero, Null Mysteriis and the Loyalists of Thule for being the Non-Action Guy by comparison. Conspiracy tier brings things up even higher, where you have the Lucifugenote , the Malleus Maleficariumnote , and Cheiron Corporationnote .
- The Loyalists of Thule are prone to a lot of intra-personal strife. Beyond the fact that one faction is eyed carefully by the other two for being alarmingly close to the Volkisch mentality that condemned them to being The Atoner in the first place, a Compact where the vast majority are only in the Compact in the first place because they are being blackmailed by one or more of their superiors is... well, it doesn't cooperate very well.
- The Ascending Ones have three factions that are so diverse they're almost like three Conspiracies sharing a common Endowment. You have the Knife of Paradise — militant Islamic/Christian/Jewish zealots, the Order of the Southern Temple — paganistic alchemist-magicians, and the Jagged Crescent — drug dealers. Needless to say, when two factions have to come together, things can get very terse.
- Legend of the Five Rings: The Clans are extremely guilty for this. They are supposed to do what their hats tell them to do all the while protecting the Rokugani from Shadowlands threat, but they are too busy getting at each others' throat. About the only clan that averts this is the Crab: no one wants to invade their land for they are right next to the Shadowlands and are tasked with manning the Kaiu Wall, and the Crab don't have the resources to invade anyone else. But even they have a fair bit of bad blood with the Crane...
- Mage: The Ascension:
- The Traditions can agree on exactly one thing - they all hate the Technocracy and want it gone. The fact that just about every one of the nine Traditions loathe and despise the other eight may just be a large part of the reason why the Technocracy (which is all about working together for the greater good - well, for a given value of "good," anyway) has been kicking their butt for the last six hundred years...
- However, by the time of the books, the Traditions have been better at cooperation for quite some time. Apparently, differences in outlook seem smaller when you are on the brink of destruction (they still don't like each other, but they are working together).
- Also, in their own books, it is shown that the Technocracy isn't half as unified as it looks. The five main groups are constantly politicking, both internally and against the others.
- In the spiritual sequel, Mage: The Awakening, the Orders are continually at loggerheads. Their war with the Seers of the Throne is only kept from being one-sided because the Seers are themselves suffering continual inner strife - far too many of their factions are too interested in gaining advantages over the others for them to focus and take out the Atlanteans.
- The Humanists want the Computer to be subordinate to human governance, and might actually get somewhere with it if they weren't constantly bogged down by infighting and red tape.
- The whole world of Alpha Complex plays this trope straight (unless the GM says otherwise, of course). The various Service Groups are meant to be all on the same side, yet are likely to spend more time getting in each other's way rather than serving the Computer, and Communists play into the whole People's Front Of Judea/Judean People's Front archetype at the best of times. Not to mention the First Church of Christ Computer Programmer, which is otherwise basically just a bunch of Computer loyalists.
- The Revolutionary League from Planescape. Best summarized by asking a cell of them "How many Anarchists does it take to change a torch?"
"Just one. Why sacrifice more effort when it could be spent on other causes?"
"All of them! Only by a concerted effort can the Revolutionary League..."
"Affairs such as torch-changing should be handled by the elite (namely us) while the others concentrate on ensuring a supply of torches for the future..."
"If we get in, we won't need them. Infravision will be compulsory..."
"Torches are tools of corruption! Extinguish them all! We don't need them!" **Extinguishes torch, bangs head on wall** "Ouch!"
- Warhammer 40,000:
- The wildly assorted powers of Chaos regard the destruction of the Imperium of Man as one of their main goals, especially the Night Lords and Iron Warriors legions, but as one might expect of Chaos, they are, well, chaotic, and spend as much time fighting each other and anyone who happens to be nearby as working against the Imperium.
- The Imperium, meanwhile, considers the destruction of everything that is not the Imperium to be its main goal. Precisely how this should be achieved is a matter of dispute between the Astartes, the Imperial Guard, the Sororitas, the Inquisition, the Adeptus Mechanicus, the Ecclesiarchy, and so on - and that's before you get to the divides in individual factions. Fortunately (for them) most of the Imperium don't think these divides take precedence over killing the nearest alien/heretic/mutant.
- Mix in divides within the divides within those factions. i.e. the Inquisition is split into multiple branches and each of those branches ends up arguing both with each other; and individual Inquisitors within those branches tend to argue with each other as well (along such lines as radicalism vs orthodoxy and so on). All in all it gets rather messy.
- The Imperium intentionally invokes this. All organizations and individuals are taught to foster an inherent distrust of each other, and the command structure is designed to be as loose as possible while retaining some level of cohesion. On one hand, this makes the Imperium a bureaucrat's worst nightmare, and allocations of military and humanitarian aid are haphazard at the best of times. On the other, this means that the Imperium is ironically less vulnerable to inside threats, as if not a single high-ranking official with his own agenda could be a huge problem. This is the same reason why Imperial Guard regiments are often incredibly specialized and Imperial Navy fleets aren't allowed to carry troops that would be useful in land battles. As for what reason that is... Well, let's just say it was a harsh lesson learned long ago.
- Also the defining quality of the Orks; they like to talk about Da Orks iz gonna tak ova', but are constantly infighting. This is taken to a quite hilarious extreme with the Orks, as the generally accepted view is that if the Orks were ever to stop in-fighting and actually unite they'd probably easily defeat everyone else. However all that is required to stop any Ork force of any size is to take out the Ork in charge of it; the inevitable fight for dominance between subordinate Orks being all but guaranteed to cause the whole enterprise to fall apart.
- The Tyrannids subvert this. While different hive fleets will attack and eat each other if they meet on the same planet it doesn't diminish the overall strength of the Tyrannids one bit. The winner simply consume the loser's biomass and uses it to become much stronger.
- Arguably the Tyranids are heavily involved in this trope with regard to the other species as well. Given that the Tyranids are believed to be flat out on their way to consume the entire galaxy and everything in it then you'd perhaps expect that at the very least the likes of the Eldar, Tau and the Imperium could see their way clear to putting aside their differences and uniting against the common foe. But this being 40k they tend to be too busy trying to get one over on each other to worry about diversions such as galaxy-devouring swarms.
- The Craftworld Eldar mostly avert this. Anything less than full unity would mean their quick and horrible deaths.
- Dark Eldar play it very straight, however. Most Dark Eldar exist in Kabals which are perhaps most simply described as a cross between tribe-like social constructs and paramilitary organizations. Given that the way of advancing in Dark Eldar society is (in most cases) to murder the person above you and take their place the leaders of the Dark Eldar literally can't trust any of their subordinates (who may be plotting against them) and the subordinates can't trust their leaders (as the leaders might kill them off out of fear of a plot). This results in senior Kabal members having to hire independent mercenaries known as Incubi to act as bodyguards against their enemies (i.e. basically everyone else). Dark Eldar society, and life on Commorragh generally, is effectively one long struggle for power and survival where the weak are subjugated and enslaved by the strong and the strong are constantly having to fight to stay at the top. One wonders how they manage to cooperate long enough to successfully pull off any raids at all or, indeed, where they find the energy to do so after all that in-fighting.
- This is (or, at least, was) totally averted by the Necrons. Being near-mindless automatons under the sway of the C'tan, they existed only to wage war against the living. It was later revealed as more arose that there were actual separate dynasties, lead by individual Necron Lords who were a little bit loopy before going into stasis for about sixty or so million years. While the Necron typically devote more time to fighting non-Necron forces than each other, aided by the spread out nature of their dynasties' locales, there's nothing stopping them from warring against their fellows.
- Werewolf: The Apocalypse:
- The game suffers from this trope big time. There are thirteen tribes that struggle against each other; they have a combined set of rules called the Litany but all have different ideas on which rules are important; there's also a lot of struggle within most tribes; and the fact that all werewolves are prone to berserk frenzy if mildly provoked doesn't help. As a result, the werewolves have all but annihilated all non-wolf shape-shifters, and completely wiped out one of their own tribes, the Bunyip.
- The sequel Werewolf: The Forsaken applies this trope primarily to the antagonist faction, the Pure, with the three Pure tribes being so outright mutually exclusive that, despite outnumbering the Forsaken (player faction) two to one and theoretically placing their shared enmity toward the tribes of the moon high on their priority lists, they rarely actually get anywhere so far as actual extermination goes.
- BattleTech: in the Clans' invasion of the Inner Sphere, the invading clans tend to have personal grudges with each other, the most notable being Clan Jade Falcon and Clan Wolf. The Clans are also divided into two groups: the Crusaders (led by Jade Falcon) believe it is their right that they should conquer Terra, and the Inner Sphere, while the Wardens (formerly led by Wolf) believe they should be its protectors, not conquerers.
- Eclipse Phase:
- The Autonomist Alliance is composed of practically every anarchist faction in the solar system plus one sympathetic state and the only reason they work together is to ward off the Planetary Consortium and Jovian Junta. The Extropian anarcho-capitalists and collectivist Anarchists in particular despise one another with the mutualists caught in between. While the Scum heartily embrace Anarchy Is Chaos. The collectivists and Titan are on slightly better terms considering that they both use the same money-less economy, but the Titanian Commonwealth is still a state, albeit one governed by direct democracy, so the Anarchists have issues with them.
- The Barsoomian movements on Mars range from runaway Synthmorphs to primitivists, the only thing they agree on is an end to indentured servitude.
- 1776 is another case of Truth In Fiction, at least in its full, unexpurgated form. The only thing the members of the Continental Congress can agree on is that the status quo is untenable. Everything else, from declaring independence from Britain to slavery to deep-sea fishing rights, is contentious and even getting a simple majority is difficult. (Watching the film makes it clear that, ante 1783, the "original 13" were a semi-random subset of a much larger and more diverse jumble of British North American possessions.) What drives most of the plot is the requirement that independence be approved by all 13 state delegations, and it takes a LOT of dirty, dirty politicking to get enough votes. And what was going on in Congress was the bloodless part of the Whig ascendancy—see the entry below on the American Revolution for more information.
- Subverted in Reds; the socialist revolution in the United States in the 1930s proves to have sufficient ideological flexibility to enable opposing points of view to be heard (both among competing left-wing ideologies and more conservative voices that nevertheless oppose the military junta they're all fighting against) while still ensuring an overall socialist victory, and ultimately proves more successful in this regard than the rigid ideological inflexibility of the Soviet Union. The relationship between the Soviet Union and America following this, however, plays the trope straight, since they ultimately split due to ideological differences and spend as much time plotting against each other as their capitalist enemies.
- Part and parcel of Imperium Nova.
- Twitch Plays Pokémon is essentially tens of thousands of people simultaneously attempting to button mash their way through a single copy of Pokemon: Red. There is several subgroups fighting each other because of personal interests, like having a Vaporeon or a Lapras, but ultimately, everyone, after fighting themselves over those things, collaborate on the greater goal of finishing the game. Even if they don't know what the next step is, as long as someone comes with a clear and straightforward next step, they will struggle together.
- In Ben 10: Ultimate Alien Charmcaster and the other rebel factions of Ledgerdomian immediately started fighting each other after overthrowing Adwaita because they all wanted to rule. Charmcaster won.