To show or remind the viewer how nasty the Big Bad or his Evil Minions are, a common trope is their habit of callously disposing of anyone who is no longer useful to their plans, whether it be an associate of an evil organization who has just concluded their useful function within that organization, or an outsider who the villain has coerced or tricked into carrying out part of their plan who is killed once they have done what the villain has ordered. It is often punctuated with words to the effect of "You have outlived your usefulness" or "you have served your purpose" before the murder.
In the case of a bribed outsider who was only loyal for the promise of money, this does make a little sense. Not only does the Big Bad avoid having to pay them for services rendered, but they remove a direct link back to them as the master of the plot. And there's always the fact that someone loyal to the money more than the cause is a risk to betray the Big Bad to whoever offers them more. Alternatively, it could be to punish a minion for asking for a raise, especially when done right before the critical mission, with the implication that the minion is aware of their own importance to the plot and intends to use that as leverage.
A particularly callous villain may also do this to an underling who has been defeated, combining this trope with You Have Failed Me. May also happen to a villain who thought he was the Big Bad, but forgot that Evil Is Not a Toy or expected the Sealed Evil in a Can to be loyal to him after it's release. More realistically, the victim in question may be privy to informationthat the villain doesn't want to get out — as the Pirates say: "Dead men tell no tales."
Then you have any kind of predatory monster who just thinks there's no point in wasting good meat.
Finally, sociopathic villains are notorious for viewing people as little more than tools to be used and then discarded once they've served their purpose, with this trope being perhaps the ultimate form of this callous attitude.
If the Big Bad is also particularly annoyed by how his Evil Minions have functioned in their role, he may use The Blofeld Ploy.
A variant of this trope is common when a villain who has enlisted the help of the oblivious heroes reveals his true villainy, the comment usually following his gloating of how they played right into his hands. Warning to any Genre Savvy villains out there: This version of the trope has a noticeably lower success rate, and trying it on The Hero is tantamount to suicide.
Compare You Have Failed Me (when the executed underlings are killed because they didn't succeed), Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves, and Uriah Gambit. Shoot The Builder is a subtrope. Contrast Can't Kill You, Still Need You. See also Villainous Demotivator and Even Mooks Have Loved Ones.
WARNING: As this is somewhat of a Death Trope (in many cases, at least), there are spoilers, so read at your own risk!
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Anime and Manga
In A Certain Magical Index, the organization GREMLIN tends to do this to its low level members. GREMLIN considers anybody who isn't privy to the organization's true objectives to be expendable.
In the anime adaptation of Ai no Kusabi, this overlaps with Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves. Iason has successfully used former Bison gang member Kirie to sell out and destroy the gang in a Batman Gambit. When Kirie shows up to collect his reward money, he's instead taken by an android posing as Iason. He's not killed but his mind is altered and he's turned into an unthinking and obedient Pet.
This is common with Szilard from Baccano!, who considers anybody to be disposable including homunculi created from his own cells, to misfit gangsters given an incomplete immortality serum JUST to ensure they are easy to dispose of- if you think that's a contradiction, you need to watch the show.
Huey also views the Lemeurs, including his own doting daughter, as this.
Mag Mel, the Big Bad after Barodius, outright told his Co-Dragons when he created them that the moment they were no longer of use to him, their lives would end. When Mistress Sellon actually does outlive her usefulness, he promptly kills her in an absolutely chilling way as she's pleading for him to spare her, then eats her energy to fuel himself. He then does the exact same thing to Anubias in the next episode.
In Bleach, the main antagonist, Sosuke Aizen does this to three characters Momo Hinamori, Rukia Kuchiki, and Halibel at different times.
Then, as a subversion, his "allies" do it to HIM. They get away with it too, sort of.
At the beginning of R2 Lelouch is stripped of his memories by Charles and used in a plan to lure out C.C., so when the Britannian soldiers find C.C., they plan to kill Lelouch since he's fulfilled his purpose. Invoked early on by Charles when he declares Lelouch and Nunnally weak and has them sent as bargaining chips to Japan, which is subsequently invaded with them still there. Lelouch survives, but now he's really pissed.Subverted in that he did this not to use them, but to hide them from his murderous and deceitful immortal brother.
In Death Note, this is is the fate of almost everyone used by Light Yagami, even if they are close to him, so that he can safely cover his tracks after they had served their purpose. Also the fate of many pawns that served under The Mafia group of Mello, especially when they were trying to get the titular Artifact of Doom. Surprisingly, the last use of the trope in the story wasn't done by either of those two but by Ryuk on Light himself because Light had been permanently stopped from killing and thus no longer held his interest — reminding us that, despite his personality as a lovable goof, Ryuk is still a Shinigami to the core.
Digimon Adventure: Upon his rebirth, Venom Myotismon promptly devours Demidevimon, his sole remaining loyal minion. He also does this quite famously to Arukenimon in Digimon Adventure 02.
This trope is actually pretty common for Digimon villains.
In .hack//SIGN: Morganna attacks Tsukasa after Tsukasa brings Subaru to the hidden area where Aura was held. This too used an alternate phrase, "I don't need you anymore."
Dragon Ball Z uses this quite often, mainly with Babidi, Frieza, and Vegeta.
Vegeta even kills his longtime partner Nappa because of this, combining this with You Have Failed Me after Nappa gets his ass kicked by Goku.
Invoked verbatim by Perfect Cell in the English dub of Kai, spoken about his Cell Games ring, of all things.
In one of the translations, Lust actually says this line to-a-T to Cornello in the first volume of the manga... Right before she impales his head with her ultimate spear. (See page image.)
An example of the "more useful dead" variation: the gold-toothed alchemist was in charge of readying the five sacrifices needed for the Promised Day. When he fails to get Mustang to perform human transmutation and as such become the fifth and final sacrifice, Wrath and Pride swoop in, mortally wound the doc, and use him as the raw material in a transmutation that they force upon Mustang.
Father tries this on Hohenheim, Roy, Izumi and the Elric brothers after they have fulfilled their role as his "sacrifices". Luckily, Hohenheim is able to protect them all with the power of his philosopher's stone.
Nakago of Fushigi Yuugi does this to one of his fellow Seiryuu warriors after he receives the MacGuffin he was ordered to steal (although this is partly because the man's "human form" was killed, making him little more than a smart wolf).
In chapter 81 of Gunslinger Girl, Giacomo Dante has been captured and the Turin facility secured, then tanks roll in, PFC Aprea is arrested and the SWA is being told to surrender to the military. Turns out, the Prime Minister now seeks to pin the whole incident on the SWA and get them labelled an anti-government organization.
Hakuron from Haou Airen does this. Very bitterly lampshaded by Reilan right before he shoots her to death.
Reilan: "Kurumi! Take a good look at him! This is the fate destined to those who aren't useful to Hakuron anymore!"
Genkishi from Katekyo Hitman Reborn! had this happen to him seemingly just to show that people can actually die.
And Xanxus kept apparently doing this to all of his underlings whenever they lost matches with Tsuna' guardians, laughing about how they're trash... only for it to be revealed that not a single one of them actually did die.
In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS, Due, after killing Regius tells Zest that his "usefulness and (his) revenge are at an end". In an inversion of the typical result of this trope, Zest kills her.
And then he did the exact same thing with Fate and Negi, after Fate had decided to stop fighting Negi.
In Mai-HiME, the Obsidian Lord is planning to do this with his First District followers, including the Omniscient Council of Vagueness, but Shizuru, going on a rampage fueled by her feelings for Natsuki, beats him to it.
Mazinger Z: In episode 31, three workers of the Photon Atomic Research Institute were kidnapped by The Dragon and hypnotized in piloting the latest batch of Mechanical BeastsBig Bad Dr. Hell had built (Megaron P1, P2 and P3). However one of the weapons of Megaron generated such a heat blast would surely kill whoever was sitting in the cockpit. Hell and Ashura knew the three men surely would die during the battle, but as long as they died after they would have fulfilled their purpose, they did not care.
This also happened to Nico Robin when she was Miss All-Sunday, The Dragon for Baroque Works. Might be subverted, since she never intended to give her boss, Crocodile, the information he wanted anyway.
In Pokémon Special, Archie rewards his very loyal and very competant henchman, who successfully managed to steal the Blue Orb for him and is now inside a submarine, asking for a hand up, by sending the sub off after removing the device that equalized the pressure inside, effectively leaving the poor guy for dead. Apparently it would have been too much of an effort to pull him up. The henchman barely manages to make it to the surface but sadly, he goes in denial, refusing to believe that his boss abandoned him, and fights on to make sure no one stops Kyogre.
In the anime, we have Paul. When a Pokemon of his doesn't perform up to his expectations, it is released back into the wild.
Cyrus is just as big an example, ignoring his loyal Admins to go into the world he intended to create.
Not as extreme an example, but in Pokémon: The First Movie, Mewtwo has put the local Nurse Joy under mind control to act as a sort of greeter to the people he has lured onto New Island, and upon revealing himself and sending one of the guests who tried to attack him flying through the room, he tells Nurse Joy her usefulness has ended and lifts her from the mind control. Granted, Mewtwo was more of an Affably Evil Pokemon than a Bad Boss, but this is still an example.
Mistress 9 does this to Kaolinite in the third season of Sailor Moon, which also happens to be the only season in which the "You Have Failed Me" trope is not used. Considering how nasty Kaolinite had been to Mistress 9's host body, Hotaru, this was also motivated by revenge.
Zako Red in SD Gundam Force gets deactivated by Commander Sazabi as soon as he's finished helping the invasion of Neotopia commence. This is particularly stupid because, aside from Zako Red, Sazabi was more or less Surrounded by Idiots.
However, the show implies rather strongly that Zako Red is simply a drone operated by Sazabi to allow him to carry out his plans without revealing himself.
And it turns out the Zakos and their bumbling commanders are only a small iteration of the Dark Axis anyway, as shown by the Doga Commandos and the villains that appear in the second half of the series.
Later on, once the General, leader of the Dark Axis, developes the power to absorb gundams through a combination tractor beam/dimensional portal, Sazabi's superior Professor Gerbera decides there's no point in maintaining the alliance he had with Kibaomaru's forces.
In the first season of Slayers, Eris created a copy of Rezo after the real one died. She blames the original's death on Lina and her friends and tries to kill them by unlocking "Rezo's Legacy". Eris released the power of Zanifar, which is absorbed into Copy Rezo. No sooner after this, Copy Rezo kills Eris because she no longer serves a purpose for him.
In Soukou No Strain, when Ralph finds the other Emily aboard the Libertad and knows that the Reliable Traitor is about to move against him, he throws a coup and kills the rest of Medlock's crew, only keeping her around until she too "serves her purpose".
Subverted in the final arc of The Twelve Kingdoms anime. Kouya has been manipulating Enki with a baby held in the mouth of his pet youma, using the baby's life as ransom to take advantage of Enki's compassionate nature as a kirin. Once Enki agrees to remain a hostage, he reminds Kouya that he doesn't need the baby as leverage anymore. Rather than let the youma devour the child — which would be far more expected in context — Kouya releases the baby and tells the servant to make sure he is returned to his parents.
Orikakan gets this from Niwe in Utawarerumono in the form of an arrow through the neck.
In Victory Gundam, Ax-Crazy Fuala, gets a pilot to help her in a plan against Uso's Gundam. After the plan succeeds, she shoots the pilot in the face. Ironically, the pilot was named Kill.
Fuuma does this to Kusanagi in the X1999 movie after the latter gets his arm dismembered by the protagonists. The result is a Rain of Blood. The manga and anime versions of Fuuma do similar things.
Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds: The Three Emperors of Yliaster do this to Jeager and Team Catastrophe.
In the original Yu-Gi-Oh!manga, Bandit Keith does this with Zygor, Sid, and Bonz, when Bonz loses in a duel.
And in Yu-Gi-Oh! The Movie: Pyramid of Light, after Seto Kaiba has done enough damage to Yami Yugi and afterwards attempts and fails to destroy his Pyramid of Light card with his Blue-Eyes Shining Dragon, Anubis appears and ambushes him, grabbing him by the head, tossing him aside and knocking him unconscious before taking his place in the duel with Yami, that while saying, "You have served my purpose well, little worm. But You Have Outlived Your Usefulness!"
Yu Gi Oh Zexal: The third-party villain Tron considers his own sons expendable, and after they lose their duels, uses their life forces to enpower his own secret weapon.
In Zatch Bell!, Gash's evil twin Zeon hires a demon named Baltro to kidnap Kiyomaro's father and lure Gash into a battle. When Baltro and his partner fail to burn Gash's book, Zeon promptly burns Baltro's, stating that all losers in battles must return to the demon world and that those are the rules.
In Crisis on Infinite Earths, Brainiac and Lex Luthor are assembling an army of supervillains. Alexi Luthor, the Earth 2 counterpart of Lex Luthor, demands to know why Lex should be in command given he is just as smart. Brainiac responds that Alexi is correct and that the venture does not require two Luthors, then promptly vaporizes Alexi.
The Star Sapphire gem once possessed a girl named Krystal so it could have a temporary body while it searched for its preferred host, Carol Ferris. It breaks into Carol's jet, Body Surfs into Carol, mocks Krystal as an inferior specimen unworthy of Hal Jordan's love, then flies away. Sadly, the confused, naked girl barely has enough time to ask what is going on before the jet crashes.
In the comic of The Incredibles, this is what happens to Underminer when he objects to Xerek using him and the Incredibles-decorated mecha as a punching bag in a large scheme to discredit the supers.
Joker also repeatedly tries to do this to Harley Quinn - in part because he does have feelings for her and hates having those feelings. He regularly fails and she regularly comes back to him, and as time went on he stopped doing it... so often.
In Death Of The Family, The Joker reveals that he has done this to a long chain of Harley Quinns before the present one. He tries to do the same to her. However, she subverts it by escaping him and letting herself be put in prison.
He also does this often to allies, teammates and partners he doesn't particularly like - adaptations have made this a character trait: after getting what he wanted he tends to screw over the poor fools who thought it would be a good idea to work with him:
Batman 1989: Has him pretend to work with the mobsters of Gotham, and then just decide to kill them all on a whim.
Batman: The Animated Series has him do this to Lex Luthor - granted, Luthor tried to kill him, but it's implied that Joker knew that would happen and had been planning this: this being stealing Luthor's prototype flying wing and blow up half of Metropolis.
In The Batman he does this twice: first against some big game hunter who hired him to steal an endangered species of leopard for him to hunt. Joker brings him the leopards, receives a pair of hyenas in return, and then immediately gasses the hunter so he can use his range to hunt Batman. Later, he eventually does this to Wrath and Scorn, who fail to realize that just because they think they're helping criminals doesn't mean Joker wants them to do his job for him.
Batman: Under the Red Hood has him do this to Black Mask - who hires him to kill the Red Hood. In order to get Hood's attention, he ties up the mobsters of Gotham, both the ones that work for Hood and Black Mask himself, and set them all on fire. Luckily Batman shows up this time.
Junior from Secret Six offers a $20 million bounty for the ultimate get out of jail free card (as well as the heads of the people hiding it). Junior's henchmen were shocked at the amount:
Junior: Money is nothing. Card is only thing that matters. Plus, will kill whoever brings it to me. Substantial savings.
In Sin City, Manute had a mole spying on the girls of Old Town for him. Once she gave him the information he needed, he ordered her killed. The mole does die, though not at the hands of the bad guys, but at the hands of Dwight and the girls of Old Town after they rescue their leader Gail, who the mole sold out.
In Sonic Universe's "30 Years Later" storyline, King Shadowbreaks Lien-Da's armband, causing her to fade into the time-line after she rescues him from stasis. This seems to be because she questioned releasing Tikhaos
The twisted relationship between Dark Jedi Asajj Ventress and the warlord Osika Kirske who killed her parents and her Jedi Master. After becoming a powerful dark sider and conquering her war-torn planet, she killed most of the warlords but spared Kirske and locked him in the deepest part of her dungeons. When Obi-Wan and the ARC trooper Alpha escaped the prison, they encountered Kirske, who accompanied them and explained his relationship to Asajj. He added that the most likely reason that he was alive was that Ventress needed an archnemesis, otherwise she would have no one to hate. Unfortunately for Kirske, Obi-Wan had messed with Ventress enough by this point that he seemed to have taken Kirske's place as most hated enemy, and when the trio encountered her she beheaded the warlord without a second thought.
The Adventures of Tintin's archnemesis, Roberto Rastapopoulos, shows his worst in Flight 714. Along with his enemies/victims, he had plans to kill every one of his minions (with the possible exception of Allan, his dragon) before his master plan was through. He doesn't get to carry out said plans, though.
In The Transformers IDWAutocracy Megatron and Orion Pax join forces against Zeta Primes oppressive rule, after Zeta Prime was shot by Megatron, he soon shoots Orion Pax, stating he has served his purpose.
Watchmen The Big Bad does this to the people who helped him with various parts of his master plan, so they won't be able to piece together what really happened. If it helps, he feels really, really sorry about having to do it. Honest. Applies to The Movie too, though the elimination of certain story elements due to the Revised Ending also cuts an entire ocean liner's worth of people that died for the cause in the comic.
Mare of Steel: Brainiac uses Steel Wing in order to gather intelligence on Rainbow Dash/Supermare, but when he decides that Steel Wing's too impulsive, he tips Princess Luna off to his actions and lets him get arrested (and also wipes all memory he has of Brainiac).
Kage no Naruto takes this to an almost idiotic extreme. Naruto kills of several of his minions because they're no longer necessary. They're still very useful; just not necessary. Of course, given how his modus operandi seems to be For the Evulz, this is hardly surprising.
In An Alternate Keitaro Urashima, Ryuichi runs headlong into this after failing to sabotage Keitaro and Miyabi's relationship. Word gets back to his boss and he loses his job, but he clings to the hope Granny Hina will help him out. When he finally gets a chance to tell her what's happened, however, she completely blows him off, letting him know she doesn't give a damn what happens to him now that he's no longer useful to her.
Film - Animated
Rourke does this to Helga in Atlantis: The Lost Empire. Similarly to the situation in The Great Mouse Detective, they're elevating on an aircraft, their evil scheme almost succeeded, but the aircraft is too heavily loaded to ascend. Rourke throws Helga overboard, but she manages to live for another few seconds and shoots Rourke's zeppelin.
In Despicable Me, a downplayed version occurs where Gru was originally going to leave the girls at an amusement park after they unknowingly helped him steal the Shrink Ray from Vector. After enjoying the day with them, he changes his mind.
Professor Ratigan kicks his minion Fidget into the Thames because the aircraft they're flying is too heavy. While falling to his death Fidget screams about his inability to fly or swim. Kick the Dog, indeed.
In Angels and Demons, The Dragon is retired with prejudice after having dealt with or tried to kill, in the fourth case anyway the four cardinals. This is especially conspicuous after it was revealed his client institution was a long-term repeat customer.
You know, when they call me, and they all call me, it is so important to them that I know what they ask is the Lord's will.
In the 1989 Batman, it combines with a Villainous Breakdown as the Joker responds to his own master plan's failure by requesting a handgun from his most loyal psycho-henchman Bob, only to shoot Bob point-blank for not telling him Batman "had one of those... things!"
Subverted in Captain America: The First Avenger as a minor Pet the Dog moment for the villain. When Dr. Zola notices that there's only enough room in the escape craft for one, it seems as though Red Skull is leaving him to die in the self-destructing base. But nope, Red Skull hands him the keys to his personal Cool Car and tells him not to scratch the paint job. Oh, but surely there's a bomb in the car. Right? Again, nope; Zola just starts the car and drives off to safety. Justified in that as Red Skull's top scientist, Zola is a bit harder to replace than Mooks or even Elite Mooks and this way, Zola will be able to deliver the Skull's favorite car to him while he's at it.
It's also invoked by Col. Phillips to Dr. Zola after he's been captured by the SSR.
The film version of Clear and Present Danger has the drug cartel spy Felix Cortez snap Moira Wolfe's neck after getting from her the information his employer desired.note This is in contrast to the book, where she's left alive, but made unavailable due to Escobedo using the information that Cortez had collected for an attack on a US delegation visiting Colombia. After the US discovers the source of the leak and gets her cooperation in capturing him, his returning to the US would result in being arrested.
The Joker does this to the entire mob, who hire him to take out Batman only to wish they hadn't as Joker's machinations ruin and eventually kill them - the only one who doesn't get killed by Joker is Maroni, who gets Two-Face set on him instead.
In the opening bank robbery, nonetheless, the Joker walks away with the entire $68 million haul for himself, tricking his clowns into shooting each other, and only needing to kill one person (the bus driver).
Dopey apparently knows about this, because he doesn't grunt in pain when Happy puts a suppressed pistol to his back and shoots him.
Dopey: That's funny, it didn't dial out to 911. It was trying to reach a private number. Happy: Is there a problem? Dopey: No, I'm done here. [Happy promptly shoots him in the back, then takes Dopey's equipment bag]
Happy, on the other hand, was not as fortunate:
Happy: They wired this thing up with like, 5,000 volts. What kind of bank does that? Grumpy: A mob bank. I guess the Joker's as crazy as they say. Where's the alarm guy? Happy: Boss told me when the guy was done, I should take him out. One less share, huh? [spins the vault lock. The vault opens] Grumpy:[draws his pistol] Funny. He told me something similar! Happy: What? [turns] No-no-NO-! [cuts to the Joker walking in the lobby with the sound of a gunshot]
In The Dark Knight Rises, Bane does this to Daggett. Earlier, he does this on the two men who capture Gordon and deliver him to Bane. Bane breaks the first guy's neck, then tells the second one he'll kill him as soon as he searches Gordon's pockets. The henchman follows orders up to the end. After Gordon escapes, Bane shoots the henchman and drops his body in the storm drain outflow.
Subverted in the only clever moment in the Dungeons & Dragons film. Damodar begs Profion to take out the parasite in his head as promised, and the spell Profion casts knocks him away and to the floor, apparently killing him. However, Damodar then gets right back up as the parasite leaves.
Though in the Sci Fi Channel sequel it turned out he was cursed and became undead.
Stated by Red Grant to Bond on the train scene in From Russia with Love. The only reason SPECTRE kept Bond alive up to that point was for him to get the Lektor, and with it within their grasp, Bond and Tatiana are now expendable. Unfortunately for SPECTRE, things don't go as planned.
In Thunderball, Angelo Palazzi, the impersonator, demanded a raise immediately before his mission of stealing the nuclear warhead. He smugly points out that with so much time and effort already spent on the plot, there's no way SPECTRE would walk away from it now, certainly not over a pay dispute. His boss was not pleased and kills him right after he delivers the goods.
In the book and in Never Say Never Again, the impersonator is Domino's brother, and is killed because he was a direct link to the Big Bad (his sister being the Big Bad's mistress) and the chance he might start blabbing to someone.
Diamonds Are Forever. After Blofeld gets enough diamonds to create his LaserKill Sat, he sends his assassins Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd to execute the members of his diamond smuggling ring.
The Spy Who Loved Me. After Dr. Bechmann and Professor Markovitz completed the submarine tracking system for Stromberg, he called them in, congratulated them, and told them he was transferring $20 million to their Swiss bank accounts. After he sent them off in a helicopter, he blew it up by remote control and sent a message cancelling the money transfer.
For Your Eyes Only: Blofeld fatally electrocutes the helicopter pilot who delivered Bond into his trap. Blofeld tells Bond, "Don't concern yourself with the pilot... one of my less useful people."
A View to a Kill: After his workers finish setting up a plan, Max Zorin not only detonates the explosives early while people are still in the caves, but then proceeds to take out an assault rifle and gun down all the survivors. While laughing the entire time.
However, Licence to Kill averted it: When The Dragon asks why they don't just kill the corrupt cop they bribed, the Big Bad insists that loyalty is important to him, and pays up the bribe as promised. The guy does die, but at Bond's hands.
But later in the film, when being chided by a lackey about the cost of losing two tanker trucks full of heroin dissolved in gasoline to Bond's actions, he declares that "...it's time to start cutting overhead", and guns down the lackey with an uzi.
Tomorrow Never Dies: During the standoff on Carver's ship, James Bond is holding Big Bad Elliot Carver's tech genius, Gupta, hostage at gunpoint in order to get him to release Wai Lin, who Carver himself has taken hostage. After Gupta confirms that Carver's stolen missiles are ready to fire on Beijing, Carver promptly kills him, declaring, "It seems you have outlived your contract."
In Casino Royale, LeChiffre himself is killed by his superior Mr White for not being reliable enough.
Mr. White: Money isn't as valuable to our organization as knowing who to trust.
Quentin Turnbull does this to Adleman Lusk in Jonah Hex. Lusk says that he will hang if Turnbull's scheme fails and Turnbull promises him that he will not hang.
The villains of Live Free Or Die Hard are quite fond of this trope. They execute everyone they have contact with once they're through with them.
Hans Gruber's willingness to blow up the Nakatomi building's roof when Karl was up there chasing McClane might have been an earlier example of this trope, as the original film's Dragon had become so obsessed with avenging his brother that he was becoming an unmanagable liability to Gruber's plans.
In Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, Ivan Ooze commands the brainwashed citizens of Angel Grove to return to the construction site he was freed from and leap off the tall cliff there after construction of his Ecto-Morphicon Titans is done. It's implied he did this to the last group of people to do the same when the machines were built. It's subverted, though, since the kids of Angel Grove are able to hold them back long enough for the Rangers to defeat Ooze and break the trance.
That and he wasn't willing to wait for them to get out of the way before activating the booby trap that would prevent the advancing heroes from reaching him.
From The Omen, Damien (aka The Antichrist) is given to the Thorn family in order to secure financial and political power and will dispose of them once it is certain that he will inherit their wealth.
In the third Pirates of the Caribbean movie, The Big Bad Lord Beckett orders the execution of Elizabeth's father because he hasn't got any use for him anymore now that he gained full authority and the ex-governor got too curious about the MacGuffin.
In Pitch Black, Johns constantly warns the others that if they give Riddick the opportunity to betray them and escape the planet by himself, he'll leave them all behind to die. They delay bringing all the power cells to the skiff until the last minute, but they held off too long and the aliens wake up. He's proven right, since as soon as Riddick gets the chance, he steals the cells and traps the other survivors in a cave, planning to take off alone. Carolyn's willingness to sacrifice herself for the other two motivates him to go back and rescue them.
Non-fatal example in the first Spy Kids movie: After Alexander Minion gets the third brain, and reveals himself to be the film's real Big Bad, he has Floop (the guy who thought he was controlling everything) locked up in a virtual prison.
Surprisingly, the Sith mastermind Darth Sidious in the Star Wars series only does this twice, and both in Revenge of the Sith. Count Dooku doesn't realize how expendable he is until Sidious orders his replacement, the future Darth Vader, to execute him. Then, once the Separatist leaders have done their job, Sidious informs them that he is sending Vader to "take care of them." Naturally, this means Vader locks the door and slaughters them. Vader's sweetheart Padmé probably would've also been discarded by Sidious, if Vader hadn't accidentally done that himself.
He does it a third...or is that first?...time in Return of the Jedi, when he urges Luke to finish off Vader and take his place at the Emperor's side.
Three times in Revenge of the Sith: the book states that he would have killed Grievous if he had won against Obi-Wan.
It sounds strange, but it's part of the Sith doctrine: kill the other if you can form a stronger duo without him. A Sith apprentice is fully aware that their master may replace them someday… Reciprocally, as a master, if your apprentice doesn't plan to kill you, you are not doing your master's job.
He also likely would have arranged to have Darth Maul disposed of at some point during the Clone Wars, had he not perished at Qui-Gon's hands earlier.
In Superman II, Lex Luthor aids the Kryptonian supervillains by giving them information on Superman and is rewarded twice with the threat of death.
First he leads them to Perry White's office and Lois Lane, with the expectation that where she is, Superman will soon show up (and he does). Zod then says "Kill the rest. Starting with him (Luthor)". After the fight with Superman is over Luthor gives Zod "Superman's address" (the Fortress of Solitude, which Luthor discovered earlier).
After Superman surrenders to Zod to save Lois' life, Zod says "We have no more use for this one. Kill him. (Luthor)" However, this is a ploy to let Luthor gain useful information from Superman (Non is about to kill Luthor as Zod commanded but stops at a quiet word from Zod).
In The Thieves, Wei Hong shoots the Korean detective in the head once he has disposed of the Hong Kong police inspector.
They also do this in a more sympathetic example to a young girl. They injure her and use her as bait to draw out other people. The plans fails, and they promptly dispose of her afterwards.
In 30 Minutes or Less, Dwayne and Travis kidnap a pizza boy, strap a bomb to his chest, and threaten to blow him up unless he robs a bank. When he succeeds, Dwayne reveals that he never had any intention of letting him live, and attempts to detonate the bomb, but Travis stops him.
In Time Bandits, Kevin demands that Evil call off his skull-headed monsters or he'll destroy the map. Evil replies, "Very well. I have no more need of them," and destroys all the monsters, then goes a step further and kills all his remaining minions.
Happens in Transformers: Dark Of The Moon. Megatron orders Soundwave and Laserbeak to kill their human workers who have served their purpose (I.E. Keeping the Ark's existence on the moon a secret). One notable example is when Laserbeak murders one worker's family, including his daughter who may not have even known her dad was working for the Decepticons.
Megatron: It's time to eliminate loose ends. Soundwave:(As newspaper clippings of dead NASA employees from the past decades appear onscreen.) Laserbeak, Kill them all.
In The Transporter, the 3 bank robbers at the beginning of the film are quietly reminded by the transporter that the conditions to using his car as a getaway car is that there is to be 3 people in the car at one time....they failed to realize he meant the driver as well. So, one of the bank robbers shoots another in the head and tosses him out the door. They get caught anyway, but only some time after the transporter has successfully evaded the police and delivered them to their drop-off point.
In Weekend at Bernie's, the mob boss Bernie contacted to kill Richard and Larry for stumbling upon his insurance fraud scheme has the hitman kill Bernie instead, becuase Bernie's greed had led him to get sloppy, putting his organization at risk. Oh, and Bernie was having an affair with the mob boss's girlfriend.
The Wild Geese: the mercenaries recruited by Matheson to rescue Limbani become redundant once Matheson concludes his mining contract. Rather than recall the mercenaries - who would need to be paid! - Matheson recalls their escape plane, leaving them stranded in hostile territory.
In X-Men: The Last Stand includes a scene where Mystique, Magneto's most loyal lieutenant, gets depowered... and Magneto immediately abandons her to the cops as "not one of us anymore".
It makes a bit more sense when you consider the original ending of the movie. When Magneto is at the park bench at the end, Mystique was supposed to be sitting next to him, implying that Magneto's rejection of her and her subsequent betrayal were both actually staged to lower the defenses of Alcatraz Island later.
In xXx, the villains test out a deadly nerve gas on the scientists who developed it for them.
In the George Orwell novel Animal Farm, Old Major names this trope as one of the chief evils committed by man against animals, citing that "the very instant that our usefulness has come to an end we are slaughtered with hideous cruelty." When Napoleon takes over the farm, he has the big draft horse Boxer sold to the knacker's to have his throat cut and his remains boiled down for the foxhounds the very day his great muscles lose their power, and the dogs drowned in a pond when they become old and toothless. Unsurprisingly, he is shown to be no better, or possibly even worse, than farmer Jones, who the animals overthrew near the start.
Visser One from Animorphs is downright pathological about this, as revealed in VISSER. Over the course of the narrative she goes through seven hosts, killing them one by one once she's got someone better and they're no longer of any use.
Visser Three too, though he's much less pragmatic and much more Ax-Crazy about it, killing his subordinates on a whim. You don't even need to fail him to earn a messy death, though it certainly helps.
A variation in Shogun.Toranaga is well aware that Yabu is The Starscream, and has in fact betrayed him at a potentially crucial time, and this is the official reason for ordering him to commit seppuku. However, Toranaga would not have done this if Yabu hadn't outlived his usefulness at the same time, since Toranaga knew he was treacherous right from the start, and made alliances with him anyway because he was useful.
The resident Magnificent Bastard, Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish, from A Song of Ice and Fire has a habit of doing this to catspaws such as Ser Dontos and Lady Lysa that had either fulfilled their purpose or become too much of a liability to his plans.
Zandramas, the Big Bad of The Malloreon, does this approximately fifty times in five books. Had to catch a ship? Sink it as soon as you're off. Don't need an escort any more? Break their legs and leave them for the lions. While Zandramas had a lot of bad habits, this was the one she indulged in most often.
In Blonde Genius by J.T. Edson, cat burglar Gus Saunders is ejected from a plane without a parachute when after he has served The Syndicate's purpose by robbing Bekinsop's Academy.
In a particularly cruel example, Raistlin Majere does this to Crysania near the end of Dragonlance Legends, telling her, "Farewell, Revered Daughter. I need you no longer."
In Terry Pratchett's Hogfather, the psycho killer assassin Mr. Teatimealways does this, even to hostages and bribees, creeping out other guys who only "won't hesitate to kill anybody between them and some gold." He's described as being one of the rare literal examples of "someone who will kill you as soon as look at you".
In another Discworld story, The Truth, a pair of villains plan to kill their Lord Vetinari look-alike once "his face no longer fits". Luckily, he is rescued in time.
In Interesting Times Lord Hong has Two Fire Herb killed after he's done with the Resistance. However, because Two Fire Herb had enough foresight to ask for a promise that Hong would neither write or say an order for his execution, Lord Hong makes an origami man. Without a head.
And in Mort, the Duke (a dab hand with poisons) catches the antidote-dosed King Olerve off-guard by simply hiring an assassin with a crossbow and a fast horse. Death assures the King's ghost that the assassin's horse isn't fast enough: He allowed the Duke to provide him with a packed lunch.
In a variation, Baron Harkonnen — after surviving an assassination attempt by his nephew and baronial heir Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen — reaches an agreement in which he will forgive this attempt on his life if his nephew agrees to wait until the Baron feels that his heir is properly prepared to take the throne, at which time he will step aside willingly (a sort of "I Have Outlived My Usefulness").
In The Emperor's Soul, Shai is Genre Savvy enough to know this is going to happen to her after she completes her task to Forge a new soul for the Emperor, despite promises to the contrary, and therefore plans from the start how to avoid it.
The Big Bad in the last Empire from the Ashes book does this so much it's almost like a Running Gag by the end. Sometimes, the "usefulness" was simply setting this situation up for other minions! This comes back to bite him in the ass big time, though it takes longer than one might expect.
In the Firebird Trilogy, wastelings are the third- and fourth-born children of Netaian royals and nobles, conceived and raised only to make sure their family's line doesn't die out; once the line of succession is secured (their eldest sibling has two children), they are legally required to commit suicide. Refusal to commit suicide means that they are publicly executed instead.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Voldemort kills Snape because he believed that Snape needed to die at his hand in order to gain control of the Elder Wand. Ironically, Voldemort failed to notice the slightly greater crime of continually betraying him for the last eighteen years.
He also kills Bertha Jorkins in the fourth book because she is of no use to him anymore.
In Mockingjay, Coin didn't want Katniss to use her influence to recommend someone else for President after the war, and since she had already united the districts against the Capitol, she tried to pull this on her. By sending her Brainwashed and Crazy kind-of ex-boyfriend to do it.
In Death: When there's a partnership of two bad guys, you can be reasonably sure one of them will kill the other and state this trope.
In The Sum of All Fears, the terrorist Big Bad does this twice in the course of his plot to nuke the United States. First, he has the East German nuclear physicist who helps them build their bomb executed once it's been completed. Then, he does the same thing to the American collaborator who helps them deliver it. In a memorable subversion, however, the physicist is killed before he can impart a crucial piece of information that causes the bomb's yield to be much lower than intended, providing the clue by which the U.S. is able to unravel the plot.
Played straight in Dead or Alive by the terrorist group, who kills all but two people who worked with them while they were setting up for their attacks. The two exceptions were the prostitute hired to service the group's leader and the woman who was extracting the information from the Yucca Flats employee: the former didn't know anything that could compromise them, and the latter was deemed to be too much of a risk to kill because she might have left behind evidence to be released on her death.
In the Left Behind prequel books, Marilena Carpathia, the mother of the future Antichrist Nicolae Carpathia, was killed off when Nicolae, still a child, was old enough to be cared for by his mentor Viv Ivins. His two biological fathers, who were living together off payments from the corporation that funded the genetic project that brought forth Nicolae, were later killed off.
In fact, this happens to anyone within Nicolae's close circle of friends and associates in the Global Community.
In Eclipse, Jasper recounts his history as a member of a Vampire Newborn Army. Newborns are useful in their first year after being turned, because they are super strong, but after their strength wanes, they are normally killed by their masters.
In Graham McNeill's Warhammer 40,000Ultramarines novel Nightbringer, after Vedden and his men foment a riot, the ornithoptors they thought would extract them opened fire on them. Then Honan, whose home the attack had been launched from, complained to the conspirators, who handed him over for torture. Later, after de Valtos has awoken the Nightbringer, it kills him and several of the Dark Eldar, who were awakening it because they thought it would help them live forever.
In The War of the Flowers Anton Hellebore does this to the Remover, or so he thinks. Unusually his father is very unhappy about this as the Remover was not only a very useful mercenary, but also owned numerous valuable magical artifacts that Anton burned.
In the Dale Brown novel Warrior Class, Big Bad Pavel Kazakov threatens this some times and eventually goes through with it.
In Edge of Battle Comandante Veracruz tries to do this to Zakharov, prompting an Enemy Mine.
This was mentioned as a common habit of Isane Isard in the X-Wing Series. If one of her agents continually succeeds, he would eventually suffer from You Have Outlived Your Usefulness. If her agents fail, however, they will either face You Have Failed Me or be killed by the people they were acting against. This caused loyalty issues in those subordinates smart enough to figure this out.
Live Action TV
Alcatraz: Garrett Stillman was once betrayed by his partner in crime so now he gets rid of all his accomplices after they have fulfilled their role. He's also the victim of this trope, c/o Tommy Madsen.
Arrow: At the end of the first season, this, combined with He Knows Too Much, is why Malcolm/Dark Archer kills the scientists who built the Markov earthquake-generating device for him upon its completion.
Battlestar Galactica (Reimagined) plays this straight with Admiral Cain, shown in its full detail in the Razor flashback: during an attack on a Cylon staging ground, a large amount of Raiders jump in but Cain still orders her Viper compliment to launch in what is a blatant violation of her earlier promise of not sacrificing her underlings in a mad quest for revenge. Her XO calls her out on it, to lethal consequences.
Belzen: This is exactly what you said we wouldn't do. Even if we succeed, is this really worth the lives and planes what it'd cost? Cain: Mr. Belzen, are you refusing to carry out my orders? Belzen: Sir, I cannot in good conscience obey that. Cain: Mr. Belzen, give me your sidearm... Belzen: Sir? Cain:I said, give me your sidearm! NOW!!! (Belzen turns over his weapon, she immediately shoots him in the head with it in front of the crew) Fisk: Gods...! Cain: Colonel Fisk... Colonel FISK! (Fisk steps up)You are now my XO.
The original had the Cylons kill Baltar after they didn't need him anymore. note They also didn't trust him. Who would trust someone who would betray their own kind?
In the movie The Castle Of Fu Manchu (as seen on MST 3 K), this happens twice. When the bad guys capture the titular castle, Fu Manchu graciously thanks the mercenaries he's hired to help him overthrow it — just before ordering their execution. Later on, a messenger delivers some news to the leader of the mercenaries. His "reward" is to get murdered off-camera. Given how stoned the mercenary leader looked while he was receiving the news, one can only hope he didn't immediately forget it.
Used in an episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. Three people work together rob a casino. One is killed by his partners at the scene. Another is killed sometime later. The third one gets killed too, but not because of this trope.
Another episode has several Monster Fangirls show up to support his bid for freedom. In the end, one woman helps him escape, but as she's gushing about their new life together, she's killed by another woman.
Rose: You didn't have to kill him! Dalek: Neither did we need him alive.
That wasn't a minion, of course.
The Sontarans kill their own brainwashed soldiers and the Cybermen kill their own programmed workhouse owners.
The cybermen have even turned the statement that I Lied before they "convert" whoever helped them into a catch phrase... though arguably from their perspective that's not killing them. (Ask the victim, of course...)
"Victory of the Daleks" has the last three Daleks (made out of whatever hodge-podge genetic elements Davros could scrabble together) activate a progenitor device that creates new-model, redesigned Daleks... who, of course, decide to exterminate their saviors, because they're inferior. The three Daleks are perfectly okay with this and even agree with the new Daleks' assessment because... well, they're Daleks.
Partners In Crime: The Adiposian royal family decides to let their nanny go when she has Outlived her Usefulness.
In "Pyramids of Mars", the first thing Sutekh's Dragon does on arriving is dispose of the minion who did all the preliminary work.
Namin: Master, spare me. Spare me. I am a true servant of the great Sutekh. Dragon:I am the servant of Sutekh. He needs no other. [kills him]
In "The Wedding of River Song", the Silence kill Madame Kovarian, not because of a specific failure, but because the best way to get at their enemies would happen to also kill her, and they hate their enemies more than they need her.
In "The End of Time", the Big Bad tells the Master that the moment his plan is complete, the Master will be killed. Unfortunately, he says so before the plan is anything like complete, and ends up on the receiving end of a Taking You with Me.
In "The Curse of Fenric", Fenric orders the destruction of his entire undead army the moment he no longer requires its services.
Subverted in Farscape; in an early episode, Crais nonchalantly killed a subordinate so no one else would know he had been recalled. When this was uncovered by his superiors much later, it was his downfall.
Subverted again later. In the three-part episode "Look at the Princess", a palace servant betrays Crichton to Scorpius. Scorpius asks his lieutenant to "give her something special", and everyone expects this trope to occur. Instead, the servant dies because Crichton triggers automatic defenses. Later, we learn that Scorpius is a reasonably honorable man who treats his underlings well when they do their jobs, which means he probably did mean to give her something special.
Not quite. He tells Braca, who was to help the traitor finish her mission, to make sure there are "no. . . witnesses." He was pretty clearly intending to have her offed after Chrichton was picked up. Chrichton just beat him to it in his escape.
Mal: "They killed Heinrich? Guess he wasn't useful anymore."
A woman kidnaps geniuses on Fringe so she can get them to finish a formula. At the end, she gives the formula to a mysterious henchman, who tests it. The test successful, she has just enough time to stare in awe and exclaim it's amazing before the henchman pulls a gun and shoots her.
Narrowly averted in Heroes: Arthur Petrelli says "I think you may have outlived your usefulness" to Linderman, who's savvy enough to take the hint and stop slacking. (Oh, and betray Arthur by breaking his mind-control on Angela.)
Happens in Episode 47 of Kamen Rider Wizard: Now that 4 Wizards have been created, there's no need for any more Gates to be found, so Medusa soon becomes the victim of this trope.
In Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger, Daizujin has this attitude towards Burai following "Reborn! The Ultimate God!". During the Zyurangers' hibernation, Burai's body got crushed by rocks. Daizyujin only cured him because they needed six Zyurangers in order to unleash Ultimate Daizyujin. Unlike the others, Burai awoke with a magic candle that would cause him to die at a certain time following Ultimate Daizujin's release. Daizyujin explained to the Zyurangers that they found it unnecessary for Burai to live beyond that event.
Later, in Tensou Sentai Goseiger, it was was revealed that this was partly the reason Buredoran was on every villain team: Gain knowledge from each group- Warfare from the first, magic from the second, and technology from the third- and let them all fall when he perfected them so no one could interfere in his master plan, sometimes even orchestrating the fall. Most notably is the third group, where he manipulates the Robogog and Metal-Alice into becoming severely weakened and then personally finishing them off. Soon after, while the Goseigers start talking about why Buredoran is doing this, Buredoran is currently taking over the third group's base and talking to himself about his plan, so the viewers can start to realize that Buredoran is the TRUE Big Bad and that the three groups were expendable to him. At the end of the episode and the beginning of the next, it's confirmed that this is the case.
In an episode of The Legend Of William Tell, a summoned demon overhears two mooks discussing that the sorcerer will unsummon it when it has served its purpose. It's not happy about that. After the heroes have escaped, they discuss with the Big Good that they were lucky that the demon betrayed its master... at which point the Big Good polymorphs into a Mook before their eyes for a second.
In Lexx, His Divine Shadow was a parasitic Insect essence that would bond with human hosts to maintain the Divine Order dedicated to reviving his original Insect body. He would keep the hosts' brains around as Divine Predecessors which would act as advisors to the current incarnation as well as providing power. In "Gigashadow", the essence returns to its original body. When its essence makes contact with the Predecessors aboard the Lexx, they rejoice thinking it is their time of salvation. The Gigashadow has other ideas.
Predecessors: Gigashadow! It is our time of rejoicing!
Gigashadow: Wrong! It is your time of pain! You are no longer needed, human vessels of my essence.
The Gigashadow promptly pops each of the predecessors like grapes as they shriek in agony.
Textbook example in Merlin. After a season of Unresolved Sexual Tension and heavy subtext, Morgause finally gains control of Cenred's army and immediately has Cenred dispatched by one of his own men.
In the revival of Mission: Impossible, an episode has such order given to an underling (paraphrased):
Big Bad: Find the best bomb expert in the city. Have him replace the bomb detonator with this one, then kill him.
Jason Dean is sacrificed to NCIS after killing Colonel Bell for his real employer.
In The Outer Limits episode "Last Supper", a Mad Scientist is on the trail of an immortal woman he wants to experiment on. When his assistant manages to find her, the scientist stabs him in the chest.
In Power Rangers Jungle Fury, Dai Shi, the Big Bad, and his Dragon Camille, gleefully allows his overlords to be destroyed, two of them by the rangers and one by the Phantom Beast Generals, when they are no longer useful in his plans now that he has learned enough about his techniques from them.
Camille: They've destroyed Carnisoar. Dai Shi: They did me a favor. One less overlord and a lot more power.
It had a lot to do with the fact that Grizzaka, the leader of the Overlords, laid claim to Dai Shi's position. The honeymoon was over.
In an episode of The Persuaders!, Danny Wilde (Tony Curtis) manages to recruit an actor impersonating a dead millionaire by warning him of what might happen when his employers don't need to hide the millionaire's death anymore.
Revolution: In episode 9, Monroe "Doesn't need [Rachel] anymore" because one of her former colleagues is now willing to build an amplifier the electricity pendants. She kills said colleague with a screwdriver and then remarks "You need me now."
The Sheriff of Nottingham, in the new BBC series of Robin Hood, does this a lot.
In The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Terminators typically dispose of human subordinates this way once their objectives are completed, usually to prevent them from talking about sensitive information. At one point, Cameron uses a man and his sister to find information on the Turk, on the promise that she would help them deal with The Mafiya goons out to kill him. However, once she has the information she abandons them to be killed, since they serve no further purpose to her, and she doesn't have anything else invested in their survival.
In Smallville: Jor-El's disposal of Kara after Clark discovers she is not actually Kryptonian. Instead of the normal phrase, he uses "She served her purpose."
Subverted in Stargate Atlantis: Michael, a villain known to have a low opinion of humanity in general takes a gun away from a clone he created and tells him that he's "served his purpose"... then draws his own stun weapon and uses that to shoot him. It's possible he was just being cruel, though; the clone was already dying.
Played completely straight, and stated word for word by a Wraith queen in regards to Todd the Wraith in another episode.
In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the Dominion used the Cardassians as help in invading Alpha Quadrant. And then it switched to the Breen. And it was planning to betray them, too.
The Dominion is also in the habit of executing Jem'Hadar soldiers as soon as they show signs of insubordination, conscience, honour, or really anything other than fanatical devotion to the Founders.
Supernatural: In "It's the Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester", Samhain does this to the witch who raised him. Not a nice way to reward several hundred years of summoning.
And in season five, the demon Crowley helps the Winchesters in trying to stop the Apocalypse because he believes Lucifer is going to pull this trope on the demons once he's won. He's right.
A somewhat unusual example happens in the Season 7 finale. Due to a deal, Crowley (who is now the king of hell) and his demons can't (actively) help the Winchesters fight the Leviathans. The demon Meg, who is fighting against Crowley, can. While the Winchesters don't turn on her, Crowley has his men grab her as soon as she has played her part.
On Social Game shows such as Survivor, this is common. Some have noticed that typically when an alliance has all their threats down or, decides to turn on each other thinking the other target(s) are of no threat, this happens to one of two people. Either the person who carried the alliance through by winning challenges or making plans, or the low-man on the totem pole who just was another vote. More often than not, it's the first.
Russell Hantz pulled one of these every other episode (which alliance-mate Natalie White was fully aware of and used as her cover).
In Teen Wolf, Kate offers to team up with Derek in exchange for giving her the identity of the Alpha. When she finds out that he doesn't know anything, she more or less declares this and tries to off him.
In the True Blood episode "Release Me", Maryann has her servant Daphne put to death with a ritual dagger after thanking her for her efforts and service.
The same style is used in 24, especially when it comes to civilians they kidnap that have a useful skill they can exploit. It always ends badly for the poor civilians.
Also pulled by the heroes. Jack works with both Nina Meyers and Christopher Henderson to foil the terrorists, putting aside his desire for revenge. As soon as the terrorists are stopped or they no longer have a use, he killed them both. Both of them know him well enough to see this coming and take steps to avoid it, but both fail.
He also pulls this one last time on Dana Walsh in the final season, but with a twist. Despite Dana being one of the villains, Jack carrying this out is to actually reveal that he isn't the hero this time around.
In Season 3 of Warehouse 13, this trope is why even thinking of siding with Walter Sykes is a very bad idea.
Similarly, in the second season opener "Time Will Tell", Wells kills MacPherson by setting off his Disintegrator Leash after he becomes a liability to her plan.
Gorog: "Oh, you'll soon see. You brought me the Moral Compass, so I'm done with you."
Makuta Teridax from BIONICLE arranged for the destruction of his entire brotherhood, to ensure that no other Makuta would be left to fight against or otherwise threaten him once his plan succeeds. He sent some of his best men to Karda Nui, the "heart of the universe", to keep the Toa Nuva from re-energizing it until the timing was right. One thing he didn't tell them was that the reactivation of Karda Nui would unleash an energy storm that vaporizes anything within it. He also intended to off the Nuva and whoever else resided in Karda Nui (whom he had used as his unsuspecting pawns), but they managed to escape the storm. However, supplementary material later revealed that he had kept some Makuta alive to enslave them and make them produce Kraata slugs to power his Rahkshi.
Cardfight!! Vanguard has multiple clans that use this as part of their play style, to tie back to the card lore. The Tachikaze, Shadow Paladin, Great Nature and Gold Paladin clans all use the trope as a mechanic, but each clan does it at a different point in your turn, and in Tachikaze's case you can revive the units just to kill them again.
Antiheroic example in Exalted, with the Solar Exalt Arianna summoning a demon to lead her to a copy of the Broken-Winged Crane, then destroying it and turning on the demon:
Demon: You...you used me! Arianna: Indeed. And now your usefulness has ended!
Can happen in Shadowrun due to the nature of the players' work (performing dirty, deniable jobs for mega-corp agents known collectively as 'Mr. Johnson'). Most Johnsons refrain from tying up loose ends by killing the runners they hire because it's bad for future business to get a reputation for not being true to the deal. Mr. Js with hot heads, personal dirty laundry involved or just ignorant of the code of conduct in the shadows still sometimes try it. The Runner's Handbook splatbook notes that while a Johnson may screw himself out of future deals by wasting a couple runners, it's not really much of a comfort to the poor sods he killed now is it?
In Pokémon Live!, after Pikachu teaches MechaMew2 its electric moves, he and Ash are no longer useful to Giovanni, so he tries to kill them with Hyper Beam.
In the fourth case of Ace Attorney Investigations, Mack Rell, after killing Deid Mann for the smuggling ring, accuses Byrne Faraday of hiring him and being the Yatagarasu (he's lying about the former but correct about the latter). After his true client Calisto Yew kills Byrne, he helps her rearrange the scene of the crime, then gets shot dead for his efforts.
In AdventureQuest Worlds, Zahart has his Djinn Tibicenas do away with one of his servants because they are no longer useful in his plans anymore after they have uncovered a red diamond that is actually the heart of their Chaos Beast, the Chaos Sphinx.
Alpha Protocol. The main character is recruited by Alpha Protocol and sent to Saudi Arabia to recover missiles stolen from Halbech by a terrorist leader, and kill said terrorist leader. It turns out that Halbech really sold those missiles to the terrorist, and have sent you in to kill him since he's outlived his usefulness... And once you've done so they try to do the same to you, since you've outlived your usefulness and know too much.
In Armored Core Last Raven, Jack-O have absolutely no qualms about killing other Ravens off using third degree executions (Claiming that a Raven "Betrayed" Vertex for example.) to accomplish his goal of destroying the Pulverizers.
Bartholomew Roberts in Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag is portayed as a big believer in this trope; he kills the Portuguese captain who helped him set up a False Flag Operation (quoting the trope name to Edward when the latter asks why the captain isn't on the ship anymore), guns down members of his own crew to prevent them being driven insane by the technology contained in the Observatory, and 'rewards' Edward for helping him find the Observatory by handing him to the British Navy in exchange for a bounty and leaving him to rot in a Jamaican jail cell.
There is a double case in Baldur's Gate 2. When the characters enter the drow city, they see a drow male killing a slave (while actually saying the trope name). A moment later his mommy shows up, and kills him, saying he is much more expendable than that slave.
In Baten Kaitos, Kalas says to the Guardian Spirit (the player) "I don't need you any more!" and forcefully ejects the player out of the game, leaving the screen to fade to black.
In Black Ops, After Reznov and Dimitri have captured Steiner and secured Nova 6, Dragovich uses Dimitri as a guinea pig to test Nova 6. Reznov manages to escape, but ends up in Vortuka prison.
Said word-for-word in Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3, by Soviet Premier Cherdenko. You proceed to annihilate the guy after already kicking the backside of two other significant threats.
This is foreshadowed after killing General Krukov, who was Cherdenko's superior in the previous timeline. Krukov's Final Speech hints that Cherdenko set him up as the traitor.
In The Conduit, Mr. Ford is betrayed by Mr. Adams, who leaves Mr. Ford to be killed by invading Drudge after gathering information from Prometheus's base
In Dark Souls Lautrec does this to Anastacia of Astora, the Firelink Shrine Firekeeper, killing her and stealing her soul. She hasn't outlived her usefulness to you when he does this. Kingseeker Frampt says this of the remaining Lord Soul owners. You can also do this to almost every friendly NPC you meet.
The Delete Button in Dawn of War would instantly kill whatever unit you have selected. The only time this could ever be useful is if you built to your population cap but have not yet built one of your late game units (which are restricted in number) or if you want to change your army composition. Of course, you are completely free to do this for laughs.
In-game, Sindri does this to Lord Bale once he gets his hands on the Maledictum.
In Deus Ex: Invisible War, you have the choice of siding with the Templars and retarding nanoaugmentation and possibly technological progress. In their ending, your player character gets lynched. Due to script limitations and laziness in rendering the cutscenes, this only happens to male characters.
Devil May Cry 3; Big Bad Vergil stabs Arkham through the midsection after it became apparent that he was useless to him. Arkham may have brought this on purpose, in order to later convince Lady to hunt Vergil and complete his plan for world domination. Dialogue and Alternate Character Interpretation suggests it's also quite possible that Vergil killed Arkham out of disgust; Arkham is an active worshiper of Evil and murdered his own wife, while Vergil is simply power-hungry and seeks to regain what he sees as his own heritage..
Arkham survived Vergil's attempt to kill him. It's actually Lady who finishes him off, with a bullet to the head in revenge for killing her mother, just before Dante and Vergil's final battle.
In chapter 4 of Disgaea: Hour of Darkness, Maderas does this to Etna after he forced her to betray Laharl. Fortunately, she foresaw this and her counter-plan was set into motion.
Similarly, in the last chapter of the same game, Magnificent Bastard / Guile Hero Seraph Lamington does this to Vulcanus by rewarding him with a transformation into a flower (or a frog in Makai Senki Disgaea, take your pick) - that also as punishment for making pacts with demons and using humans to attack innocent demons - after he has served his purpose of bringing peace between angels, demons, and humans well. This was a very satisfying punishment for Vulcanus.
After getting revenge against the Lord Regent in Dishonored, the leaders of the Loyalist group, Corvo joined to help him, poison his drink. They do this for three reasons: 1. To completely cover their actions of plotting against the Lord Regent. 2. Leave Corvo behind to take the blame along with others who had no idea. 3. To eliminate any possible influence Corvo would have over future Empress Emily, allowing the conspirators to use her as a puppet.
Double Switch: Early on, Eddie needs your help to escape the basement he's trapped in. After you free him, he goes on a rampage, and when he realizes that you are thwarting him, he will try to cut off your connection to the security system, and you will have to stop him from doing so.
This is one of the main M.O.s for the Order of Zugzwang, the main villains of Dragon Quest V. The slaves forced to build their colossal temple in the human world? Killed to cover their tracks. The Evil Chancellor who hands over your wife to The Dragon? Promptly murdered. Not even their own are safe from this treatment. King Korol, a high ranking Order official who was in charge of the aforementioned temple, is casually tossed aside by Nimzo after he fulfills his final duty.
An Evil Chancellor in Dragon Quest V is left to rot to death by Kon the Knight after he successfully kidnaps your wife. Not a surprise, no one pities him when he dies.
In the The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim expansion Dawnguard, Vyrthur tells the player that since they brought Serana to him, they've outlived their usefulness, and he tries to kill them.
This rule is also pretty much standard procedure for Daedra Princes. Several quests for them require you to kill some formerly favored servant of theirs, often so you can take over the job: Boethiah's chosen started to suck, Peryite's stopped following orders, and in the case of Mehrunes Dagon's quest, he wants you to get rid of the guy who got you started on the job, just because. (Dagon then sends grunts to kill you, again just because.)
Hermaeus Mora pulls this off twice in Skyrim and its DLC, killing both Septimus and Miraak
Evil Genius: You can kill minions to boost the stat regeneration of everyone who sees you doing so.
In Fable, Maze is defeated, but Jack of Blades says that he had outlived his usefulness anyway.
A particularly callous take in Fable II: The Hero is ordered to kill a fellow guard who has broken down.
Commandant: Those who will not obey can be made to. Those who cannot obey are useless.
Happens a few times in Fallout: New Vegas, such as with Barton Thorn (who asks you to clear some Gecko off a ridge to save his girlfriend, when in reality he just wants a haul of treasure) and Logan (who recruits you into his band of mercenaries in order to loot a town after it becomes irradiated). The player can also pull this in certain quests, such as snitching the Powder Gangers to the NCR after helping the former massacre Goodsprings.
Elijah in the Dead Money tells you that he doesn't care what happens to your comrades once they get inside the casino, and while it's up to you whether they live or die, if it was up to him they'd all be dead. Once you've broken into the vault, he will attempt to kill you as well.
Caesar is a variation; tribes that ally with him tend to wind up assimilated into the legion, with the worthy men press-ganged into the military and the women used as slave labor.
Fallout 3: If you tell Autumn the purifier code, he shoots you on the spot. In Point Lookout, if you side with Calvert in the final main quest, he says something to this effect and activates a squad of Protectrons to kill you.
Final Fantasy Tactics revealed that Delita does this throughout the game and was the way he rose in power and became King, after he fooled the world into believing he ended the Lion War. He even does this to his best friend Ramsa, sending him and his party into a death trap. However, Ovelia whose seen his devious actions over the years, fears that Delita might do the same to her - knowing that he used her to become King. On her birthday, she strikes first and stabs Delita. She was right as Delita was planning to and does kill her, while it's unknown rather the wound that he received from Ovelia was fatal or not.
Sephiroth of Final Fantasy VII has this policy towards the various tatooed men that you encounter (ie. victims of Hojo's Mako experiment), ruthlessly slaughtering them, among many others, after they are manipulated to joining the "reunion" in the Northern Crater. Strangely enough, this also includes the main character.
In the game's spinoff, Dirgeof Cerberus, after retrieving information for the Tsviets, Azul informs Shelke that she is "no longer required" and that "Weiss has ordered (her) termination."
General Leo and Emperor Gestahl are offed by Kefka on two separate occasions in Final Fantasy VI. Shadow almost gets this treatment as well, but he survives and is discovered by the party when they arrive at the Floating Continent, earning them a powerful ally.
This happens four times in FireEmblem 7, and two of these murders are carried by the same person. First, Ephidel stabs Lord Helman to death when he questions his plan to kill Eliwood. Second, Emotionless Girl Limstella kills one of the Reed brothers (it can be either the Swordmaster Linus or the Hero Lloyd, depending on which one you fought against) and Sonia's right hand, the Valkyrie Ursula, assuming she survives the player's Army, after their defeats. And ultimately, after being defeated at the Water Temple, Sonia is either killed by Nergal or left to die by Limstella, depending on whether or not you took a sidequest.
Commander Sith does this to Yomiel towards the end of Ghost Trick. He didn't want Yomiel's services, just the Temsik Meteorite that gave him the ghost trick powers. Since he couldn't kill someone who was already dead, he simply removed the meteorite fragment from Yomiel's body and sunk the submarine, leaving Yomiel trapped at the bottom of the ocean with no way to escape by possessing another body or using the phone lines.
In The Godfather 2 there are only so many slots on your Badass Crew. Want to recruit someone better? You can mark an existing member for death, allowing you to dispose of him.
This happens to the trio that took Gene's arm in God Hand. After beating them a second time, a later cutscene in the stage has them running to another area, still upset, only for them to encounter Azel who dashes past them and turns them into dust for being worthless.
Dimitri Rascalov attempts this several times in Grand Theft Auto IV. After Niko offs his Ax-Crazy business partner on Dimtri's orders, Dimitri tries to sell Niko out to Bulgarin, a crime boss with a grudge against Niko, which results in a shootout in a warehouse. If Niko later agrees to assist Dimitri in a drug deal, Dimitri sends a hitman to Roman's cousin's wedding, who tries to shoot Niko, but ends up killing Roman instead.
Steve Heines invokes the trope to the letter in Grand Theft Auto V but Trevor (in a rare moment of compassion) after an extensive session of torture lets the poor soul go away.
In Kid Icarus: Uprising, after Medusa saves Pit from Hades' One-Hit Kill attack and Hades states that he will revive her as many times as he desires, he tells her "But you've worn out your usefulness!" before permanently destroying her.
In Kingdom Hearts: Following Sora's Heroic Sacrifice, the game's Big Bad, Ansem, appears out of nowhere and is about to pull this one on Kairi, but Riku holds him back long enough to let her escape with the others.
Rather similarly, in Kingdom Hearts II it's DiZ who orders the 'disposal' of Namine after she completes her assigned task; an order he probably wouldn't give if she wasn't a Nobody. Sora's own usefulness to the Organization's Evil Plan eventually expires as well, which goes about as well as you'd expect.
In Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep Aqua is in the same boat. Her role in The Plan is to just succeed at the Master exam while Terra doesn't to make him feel inferior and rush off half cocked. This happens in the first 10 minutes of the plot and the rest of her story arc is the Big Bad sending her into danger and later sending his Dragon to personally finish her off. But she's made Master rank for a reason and refuses to die. Eventually she winds up screwing the whole Gambit just by being an extra person who wasn't expected to be around for the final stages.
In Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days, Xemnas tried to confront Roxas and Xion by casting an illusion where both of them thought they were facing an Heartless with the expectation one would kill the other. All this because he wanted a full-powered Sora clone rather than two half-powered ones.
And in the manga adaptation for Kingdom Hearts II, Shan-Yu's failure to conquer China and kill it's Emperor results in Xigbar shooting him in the head.
At the end of The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask the eponymous mask does this to the Skull Kid, whom it had been using as a host for most of the game. But he gets better at the end.
The manual of 'A Link to the past' states that Ganondorf killed his followers when they reashed the Triforce.
In Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time, the Shroob Princess (the younger one), declares that Peach is useless after the brothers break her out of her force field and tries to finish her off, but the brothers fight and defeat her.
At the end of Mass Effect 2, Harbinger delivers this line to the Collector General, for the crime of letting Shepard blow up the Collector Base and Reaper prototype.
Reapers in general do this to all their indoctrinated slaves, since their ultimate goal is wiping out all advanced species.
In Mass Effect 3the Illusive Man's new antagonism towards Shepard is apparently a case of this, though in fact it's because he's indoctrinated.
Although it's also a case of Shepard refusing to accept anything other than wiping out the Reapers Until the end where s/he learns it's not quite that simple. Persumably if Shepard were on board with his plan, s/he'd have Kai Leng's job.
In Modern Warfare 2, General Shepherd shoots his subordinates, Roach and Ghost, after they retrieve intel on Makarov, then has his Shadow Company goons douse the bodies in kerosene, which he personally ignites. Oh, and you see all of this through Roach's eyes A rare case of this being done to Unwitting Pawns, not Mooks.
Shepherd doesn't care much for Shadow Company either- after Soap and Price breach SC's command base, Shepherd sets the place to self-destruct to cover his own escape, telling those still inside their "sacrifice will be honored".
In Metal Gear Solid, Liquid Snake says this to Solid Snake word for word when Snake finally (unknownly) activates Metal Gear Rex. Then he tries to gas him.
The Patriots do this in Metal Gear Solid 2 with every single character, such as deactivating Richard Ames pacemaker nanomachines for him to act out FOXDIE (although the fact that his actions mentioned in In the Darkness of Shadow Moses: The Unofficial Truth were mentioned, and resulted in the incident being exposed among others, may also qualify as a very subtle version of You Have Failed Me), they engineered President Johnson's betrayal and later capture by Solidus for the S3 plan, and then had Ocelot execute him, and then had Ocelot attempt to execute Solidus, Fortune, Snake, and Raiden aboard Arsenal Gear with RAY.
Coldman was implied to have intended to kill off the Peace Sentinels with the Peace Walker project's completion, especially if it succeeded, as soon as it was done. Zadornov himself nearly did this onto Big Boss, and in fact, had the MSF and FSLN not stormed the room and captured Zadornov, he would have done this.
Midway through Dual Strike, Von Bolt tries to off Hawke and Lash when their questioning of his plans surpasses their usefulness to him. This prompts their subsequent Heel-Face Turn.
After the Shadow Queen possesses Peach in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, Grodus attempts to order her around- not exactly the smartest move, considering her nature. She proceeds to blast him with lightning. He got better.
In Perfect Dark, after the first two version of their plan, which attempted to take advantage of Trent Easton's political connections, fail, Mr. Blonde reveals his alien nature and dispatches Easton in a combination of You Have Failed Me and this trope. When the last, least subtle plan is thwarted as well, the Skedar imprison their other ally, Cassandra DeVries, for the same reasons.
The Reveal of Persona 3 involves Ikutsuki doing this to the party, though the death part, at least, had a purpose: He was going to use his tools as human sacrifices to accelerate his plan. Because apparently he can't wait three lousy months. Still fails, though.
In Planescape: Torment, The Practical Incarnation inverted this trope by manipulating someone into falling in love with and dying for him. The Power of Love kept her bound to him even after death and her ghost remained an integral part of his plan: She did not 'outlive her usefulness' so much as 'even in death, she still serves'. While The Practical Incarnation is long gone, Deionarra keeps haunting and attempting to guide the incarnations of The Nameless One, unable to leave him even if he no longer remembers her.
In Portal, GlaDOS decides to kill Chell after she has all the testing data she needs. In a massive oven, no less.
In Portal 2, Wheatley also tries this as soon as he can replace Chell with robotic test subjects.
Subverted in Psycho Waluigi. After Waluigi frees Psycho Iris, the latter says he is about to do this, but then he follows it up by saying, "...JUST KIDDING! I only said that 'cause you were expecting me to, and I didn't want to dissapoint."
In the Total Conversion Malice for Quake I, this happens to the protagonist mid-plot. The Big Bad ambushes him just when he tries to figure out why he still hasn't been paid for his job.
In Resident Evil 5, Albert Wesker does this to Excella near the end of the game. During the final confrontation, Chris mocks Wesker's tendency to do this to his allies by noting that Wesker is all alone with his back to a wall.
In RosenkreuzStilette, Iris destroys her own father with a Blitzstrahl attack from behind him after he is defeated by the player's character (Spiritia or Grolla, to be precise) because he wasn't useful in her plans anymore.
Graf Sepperin: (As he gets struck from behind by Iris' Blitzstrahl attack) GAAAAAAAAAHHH!!! (he burns away) Iris: What a useless old man.
She would've done the same to Tia if not for her friend Freu interfering with a massive ice attack that freezes her one last attack with it.
Iris: I really must thank you for being such quality entertainment. Unfortunately, I have no further use for you, so... Please die.
In Section 8: Prejudice Salvador disposes of Thorne when the latter is cornered by 1st Recon.
In Shadow Hearts, Kato's commanding officer and love interest is gunned down by Japanese soldiers when she ceases to be any use to the army high command... as Kato helplessly watches. This starts the chain of events that turns him into the final Big Bad of Covenant.
In Shogo: Mobile Armor Division, if Sanjuro agrees to help Ryo in exchange for his support in saving Kura, after completing the task, Ryo says "Thanks for the assistance, Commander. You're no longer useful to me. Sorry to leave you hanging," then deactivates the energy bridge leading to the area the Sanjuro is in, forcing him to get back to the main part of the building an air intake chute.
Alfonso from Skies of Arcadia punts his vice-captain off of his own airship and sends him plummeting to his death when Vyse and Aika invade at the start of the game. He planned to use the vice-captain as a scapegoat for allowing the Blue Rogues to board the ship (and get himself a cushy promotion for "outing the traitor"), but his boss, Galcian, sees through it and punishes him instead.
Galcian pulls this himself much later in the game on Belleza, although in a very indirect manner as he simply unleashes the continent-destroying superweapon on the continent he sent her to. This proves to be a fatal error on Galcian's part, as Belleza is late to arrive and thus escapes the blast. She proceeds to aid the heroes in planning their assault on Galcian's fortress, then personally rams her ship into his escape pod when he flees.
Finally, Mendoza, the prior Grand Admiral (whom Galcian replaced) tried this on Ramirez in the latter's backstory. Ramirez is a tykebomb created for assassination and has a blade that can slice photons in half, and is, not to mention, still alive when the game comes around: You work out how well that one went. It goes without saying that Galcian is not big on trying to repeat that whopper...
Not to mention, Galcian saw Ramirez as being like a son, decidedly not just a tool to be disposed of once he's served his purpose.
In StarCraft, Arcturus Mengsk abandons his top lieutenant Sarah Kerrigan to die at the fangs of the ravenous Zerg Swarm as soon as she ensures his ultimate victory. While Mengsk is undeniably a Magnificent Bastard, this turns out to be his single greatest mistake, and it comes back to bite him in the assin a major way.
Sarah herself gives this treatment to two entire armies in Starcraft: Brood War, including, ironically, Mengsk himself.
Like most of the horrible things she did in Brood War, this is invoked and defied by Sarah Kerrigan in StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm, which focus on her redemption. After their Enemy Mine in the Skygear missions, Stukov expects her to pull out this on him, only for Kerrigan to not only spare him, but offers him a place in the Swarm since he has nowhere to go. In the Hyperion mission, Zerg ask Kerrigan if they can devour the Raiders now that they have done what they could to help, only for her to angrily forbid any attempt on their life. The trope is still played straight when Kerrigan abandons her own creation Niadra once she is done eliminating the Protoss on the ship she was sent, but considering she had been used to Shoot the Dog, it is sort of understandable Kerrigan didn't want to keep her.
This, crossed with You Have Failed Me, starts the plot of the NES Strider game - Strider Hiryu is informed that Strider Kain was captured by the enemy. Just when you think you're being sent to rescue him... "As his identity is now known, rescue is not an option. Kill him! That is all." Needless to say, Hiryu's not about to kill a comrade on some computer screen's say-so, and heads out to find more information...
While he's not killed, Bowser gets this from Ganondorf in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. The two of them are going to report to Master Hand when Ganondorf decides to turn Bowser into a trophy in preparation to usurp the Master Hand. (Later, when Bowser is restored and Ganondorf is a trophy, Bowser takes his sweet revenge... or tries to, anyway.)
But it's all good, because then Tabuu gives the boot to Ganondorf so that he can join the heroes in time for the final battle.
In Tales of the Abyss, Van uses these words when the villain leaves Ion and the party behind to die once Luke has doomed Akzeriuth to sink into the core under his direction. In a subversion, the appearance of the villain's sister in the party suddenly adds a person the villain doesn't want to die into the mix — but since she can save herself (with the minor prize that she'll save the party alongside herself) and the villain knows this, it doesn't change matters.
In Team Fortress 2, in the 2013 Halloween event, once the mercenaries take the corpse of Redmond/Blutarch to hell, the remainder will send everyone to hell so he doesn't have to pay them.
Remiel says almost these exact words to the party at the end of the Journey of Regeneration in Tales of Symphonia when he attacks you. He fails.
Thief: The Dark Project: Garrett almost falls victim to this after delivering the Eye to Constantine, who puts out one of his eyes and leaves him for dead, trapped in a thicket of flesh-eating plants. Garrett is rescued by the Keepers.
In the video game 'Valkyrie Profile' Covenant of the Plume, you are given the option of sacrificing your characters in exchange for a rather large power boost though if you do it too much you'll receive the bad ending.
World of Warcraft: In the Arcatraz dungeon, Warden Mellichar, under the influence of mind-control, releases Harbinger Skyriss, who promptly kills Mellichar.
In Warcraft 2: Tides of Darkness' Orc ending, Ner'Zhul and the player go through a portal and leave the rest of the Horde on Draenor, which is about to be destroyed.
In Warcraft 3, once Archimonde is summoned the control of the Scourge is handed over to Tichondrius, leaving Arthas, Kel'thuzad, and Ner'zhul as nothing.
Before that, once Mal'Ganis finished bringing Arthas to The Dark Side, he is killed by Arthas and the Burning Legion doesn't interfere.
Subverted with Arygos in the Thrall: Twilight of the Aspects novel. Kirygosa suspects he was subject to this, but the Twilight Father clarifies that his failure to become the Aspect of Magic instead of Kalecgos was what got him killed.
In Wing Commander II's second Special Operations pack's ending, it is revealed that the Mandarins, humans who cooperated with the Kilrathi in order to become part of the Kilrathi government and change Kilrathi society from within, were about to outlive their usefulness before Blair destroyed their Ayers Rock base.
Most of the villans of Fate/stay night are of the manipulator kind and are really fond of this trope. Kotomine tries pulling it on the protagonist and Saber in Fate after he fails to tempt them with the Grail (fails because Lancer interferes), and Rin in Unlimited Blade Works (fails because Lancer interferes) — followed by pulling it on Lancer himself by ordering him to kill himself (succeeds, but Lancer takes him down with him). In Heaven's Feel, Zouken takes over the Big Bad-ship and ends up trying to pull this trope on Sakura and fails.
In Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, Okonogi gives Takano this treatment near the end of Matsubayashi-hen after it becomes clear her plans to trigger Protocol 34 have been completely foiled. Complete with a Hannibal Lecture about how Tokyo never really cared about her research and was only using her a pawn. He than hands her a gun with a single bullet and tells her to blow her brains out. And if not for the intervention of Hanyu, that is what she most likely would have done. It is safe to assume that she does not fare better in the other worlds either.
This is an especially unusual example because Takano is supposed to be the Big Bad.
In Umineko no Naku Koro ni, the same Okonogi from Higurashi is eventually revealed to have been working with the main Sumadera branch to eliminate Kasumi and her guards. Because Ange had at that point become a liability and could become a witness, Okonogi ordered Amakusa to kill Ange as soon as he finished off Kasumi and her guards.
And she recently made good on it, though Syphile attacked her first rather than the other way around.
Black Mage from 8-Bit Theater was always a fan of Chaos and made no attempts to hide it. Once Chaos himself shows up, he makes it clear that he intends to slaughter BM as well as everything else.
Subverted in Errant Story, where it's the good guys (or at least the antihero) who invoke the trope (by name) to dispose of bandit Jim after Sarine coerces him into revealing the location of the bandit camp. Sarine herself is perfectly happy to have the guy go off to the Powers That Be and turn himself in, but Jon prefers a more ... direct ... approach.
In Everyday Heroes, Wrecking Paul is a serial killer preying on women, as well as a thief. When faced with Mr. Mighty instead of the female hero he was expecting, he turns on his accomplice. Apparently he goes through a lot of them.
In an amusing moment of Genre Savvy (for him), Otacon from The Last Days of Foxhound uses Sniper Wolf as an intermediary to tell Liquid that he's finished modifying Metal Gear to fire nukes, stating that he suspects Liquid will adhere to this trope and kill him the moment he finds out. Obviously, it doesn't happen.
In Mitadake Saga, Keiichi kills both Kazu and Yuki after they've finished all the testing of the Death Note and are unable to provide him with names respectively
In The Order of the Stick, When Redcloak informs Xykon that his ogre minions are asking for payment, Xykon kills them and zombifies them. "Just as strong, but they eat less!"
Its also implied in recent strips that Xykon is grooming Tsukiko to replace Redcloak since he's becoming increasingly unreliable
Later on however Redcloak disposes of the wights by ordering them to kill (and eat) themselves in order to cover up the murder of Tsukiko
When he tells Xykon that he killed Tsukiko for being The Starscream, Xykon's response is "been there, done that, didn't really need her" (combined with some face saving).
An interesting example between General Tarquin and his son Nale. For a very long time, Tarquin was willing to overlook Nale's staggering incompetence and overall detrimental effect on his plans, simply because he was his son and he loved him. However, when Nale boasts about killing Malack and then rejects Tarquin's Last-Second Chance to reconcile, Tarquin stops treating him like his son and starts treating him as an asset. A pragmatically evil overlord like Tarquin only has one reaction to a useless asset.
Tarquin: Is that really how you feel? [...] *sigh* As you wish, son.
Benjamin Palmer does this to Col. Keene near the end of Broken Saints, then has it done to him in turn by Lear Dunham.
Game 7 of Comic Fury Werewolf. The two Wolves decided to backstab the Framer mere days away from victory. It turned out later that they'd just forgotten that he was on their side, but the Trope was used in the Death Scene anyway.
Hades does this in The Frollo Show to Scanty and Kneesocks in the episode Frollo Misses His Mother. This was after Frollo, Gaston, Lefou, and Hans Frollo escape Hell by using Sonic's spring. They managed to escaped because Hans makes a surprising appearance and covers them with his sperm. They apologize to Hades, only for him to respond by kicking them into the River Styx and Rick Rolling them as punishment.
Coil attempts this in Worm, attempting to kill Skitter when her morals outweigh the benefits that she offers and she has accomplished the goal of taking over the city for him that he has set out. In order to do this, he teleports her to an abandoned building and shoots her in the chest, and then, when she survives, he sets the building on fire and has his men fire at it constantly to ensure that she does not escape. When she escapes, she finds her allies, outmaneuvers Coil, shoots him in the head, and takes over his organization.
Later, the ostensibly heroic Irregulars pull this on their leader, Weld, once he has led them to victory over Cauldron.
Attempted by Long Feng in Avatar: The Last Airbender . After Azula helps him stage a coup against the Earth King, he orders his Dai Li agents to arrest her. However, Azula turns the tables by revealing that the Dai Li work for her now and, in fact, she has no further use for him.
Azula herself is subject to a non-fatal but still exceptionally cruel one of these in the finale, by her own father no less. He rewards her for all her loyalty by naming her his successor as Fire Lord, and then immediately crowns himself Phoenix King of the entire planet, rendering her new position totally powerless. And despite how karmic this sounds, it's actually really, really sad.
Batman Beyond had an episode where Inque, a powerful shapeshifter whose body was falling apart, was freed from prison, given a place to hide out and helped to have her body's cohesion restored by a slightly stalkerish guy who had worked at the prison. While the guy WAS annoying and probably creepy to be around it still doesn't forgive Inque taking his request, to be given powers similar to hers, and twisting it by only giving him half the abilities. In a rather nasty case of Body Horror the guy now has a body similar to Inque in that its formless and maleable, but he lacks the ability to control it.
NOS-4-A2 in an episode of Buzz Lightyear of Star Command makes it very clear that he's going to dispose of XL after he's no longer needed for his plan of conquering the galaxy. He even says these exact words to XL after he says he killed both Buzz Lightyear and XR. Unfortunately for NOS-4-A2, XL had a Heel-Face Turn and was lying about killing the space rangers.
Danger Mouse: in "Where There's A Well, There's A Way," a hooded figure named Copper-Conk Cassidy trails DM and Penfold in their quest to find the mystic inkwell of Merlin the Magician. As they traverse the Cave of Coffins, Copper-Conk, with mallet in hand sneaks in and quips "Goodbye, Danger Mouse. You have served your purpose." Subverted immediately as he falls into a hole.
Typhonus lays it out fairly openly in Exo Squad when asked about Barca, a traitor Pirate helping the Neosapiens in return for Pirate dominion over Venus: "All of Venus Barca will ever see is a six-foot hole in the ground."
Ironically, Typhonus himself had been on the receiving end of such earlier (He got better because of Cloning Blues).
Xanatos tries this on the Gargoyles in the series' opening after his initial plan has succeeded. It doesn't work.
White Knight, a good guy (relatively), in the series Generator Rex implies to Agent Six that he will do this to Rex if the teenager refuses to obey orders.
Inch High, Private Eye: A scientist working for Mr. Finkerton developed a mechanical flea that could make detectives unnecessary. When it was stolen, Finkerton tasked Inch High with finding it, claiming Inch High would be fired if he failed and that, if he succeeded, he'd fired anyway because Finkerton would no longer need him.
In Jackie Chan Adventures, Shendu did this to Valmont and the Enforcers after getting all of his talismans. Later in season 2, he no longer needed Finn, Ratso, and Chow to carry the Pan'Ku box and sends them out (it is notable, though, that he lets them live at all, presumably because they actually did what they were supposed to do). Shendu tries to do this to Hak Foo, but Valmont wouldn't allow him. However, Shendu soon figured out he had invoked the trope too soon, as he still needed the box, even if just to delay his sibling's wrath.
In the Jonny Quest episode "The Riddle of the Gold", a villainous maharaja working with Dr. Zin on a fake gold mine makes the big mistake of mentioning that he will be sharing the ill-gotten gains with Zin. At that statement, Zin casually orders his lackey to implement Phase 2 of his plan. When the Maharajah asks for a light and asks what Zin is referring to, the lackey suddenly hits the Maharajah with a hidden spring-loaded poison needle in his lighter to kill him since he is not needed anymore.
In Justice League Unlimited Tala, following her failed revolt against Lex Luthor, realizes Lex was planning on using her to revive Brainiac all along, even though it would kill her. When it finally happens, Tala tampers with the process in a final act of defiance by reviving Darkseid instead. The evil alien invokes this trope by killing almost all of the remaining rogues for their efforts.
Darkseid: It would appear that I have you to thank for my resurrection. Though your planet will suffer slowly, I grant you the mercy of a quick death.
Subverted in The Little Drummer Boy, Ben Haramad sells Aaron's camel after one of those used by the Three Kings falls under the load it's carrying. A disgusted Aaron rejects the final pay from that sale and storms off. When Ali tries to go after him, Ben Haramad tells him that Aaron is free to go because he had outlived his usefulness.
"A Mutt in a Rut": Averted and turned backwards, in that owner Elmer Fudd – in a rare cartoon where he stars as the hero, not the sympathetic villain – loves his dog, Rover, and has no plans to kill him. However, Rover – having just watched "The Dog-Lover's Hour" and host Carlton Canine speak about how some dog-owners shoot and kill their dogs once they've grown old – becomes paranoid after hearing Canine ominously editorialize, "Two go out ... but only one comes back!" Rover, annoyed at not always getting his way, is convinced Elmer has him marked for death but – since he is a dog – is unable to tell Elmer specifically what is bothering him, and is set off when Elmer suggests a good hunting trip will do him good. Rover, thinking he's saving himself, decides to kill Elmer off himself and makes several attempts to off his unwary master; however, Rover gets the worst end of things. Only at the end of the cartoon, when he sees Rover somehow limp to the studio to attack the host of "The Dog-Lover's Hour" does Elmer even start to get an idea of what is bothering his beloved pet; Rover had finally become convinced that his place in the Fudd household was secure after his last attempt went awry, and was now determined to make Canine pay for needlessly stressing him out.
Hack and Slash of Reboot get this treatment during season 3, despite never having been useful in the first place. Megabyte is sick of their incompetence and sends them to the front lines solely to get rid of them.
Professor Pericles on Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated stoops this low in episode 50, where he orders the death of all the citizens in Crystal Cove once they have found the door to the Nibiru Entity's tomb.
He's on the receiving end shortly there after after freeing the Nibiru Entity from its prison. The Entity replies by possessing and killing him to take his body as its own. It then follows up by eating the rest of the the original Mystery Inc. alive.
Trigon does this to Slade during the fourth season finale of Teen Titans. Subverted in that Slade saw it coming, acquired a magical artifact that protected him from the worst of Trigon's wrath, and managed to survive. He spends the rest of the finale helping the Titans take Trigon down.
Chris McLean says this word-for-word Owen in the fourth season of Total Drama Island, when the latter asks why he and the cast of the first three seasons aren't competing this time. Then Chris has him blown up.
Jo says a variation of the same sentence about Lightning later in the season.
In Transformers, Megatron's character uses this trope on a regular basis - the 'cons all know it and he has said it word for word on more than one occasion.
He is so notorious for this that in G1, the Insecticons once rationalised he can't have been the one to betray them because he still had a use for them - they added right to his face that they wouldn't be surprised if he did so later, and he didn't bother to deny it.
This sums up Megatron's working relationship with Starscream in Transformers Animated from season 3 onward. For most of the season he was the only few individuals Megatron had at his disposal. However, as soon as he completes his plan to create living superweapons, he terminates their alliance.
In Transformers Prime, when Silas is critically injured, a team of MECH scientists saves him by connecting him to Breakdown's lifeless body. He thanks them for their dedication and service...then kills them and leaves to join with the Decepticons.
Which makes it all the more ironic and satisfying, when in the same episode, the tactical advantage which Silas offered to Megatron goes up in smoke, and he is handed over to Knock-Out's dissection table for further study.
Subverted in the pilot episode "The Terrible Secret of Turtle Bay" of The Venture Bros.. The Big Bad is getting some acupuncture when his mook comes in and tells him that Doctor Venture is unveiling a new invention. Having received this information, the Big Bad grabs some acupuncture needles out of his body and throws them at the mook, seemingly killing him. As the Big Bad is reading the newspaper article about Doctor Venture, the mook speaks up and the Big Bad looks up from the paper to see the mook thanking him for curing his shoulder pain and also his smoking habit.
Winx Club season 2: Once Darkar has the four pieces of the codex and Dark Bloom at his side, he makes clear that he doesn't need the Trix anymore by tossing them into a black hole. That decision bites him in the ass not much later...
The Trix get hit with this from Valtor and Tritannus as well.
In the 1992 X-Men cartoon, Zaladane says exactly this to Sauron in the episode "Savage Land, Strange Heart Part 2." It doesn't work out well for her.
In Young Justice, Kroloteans who are under The Lights employ are killed off by them, in favor of their new partner The Reach.
According to apocrypha, this was at the center of the supposed Pixar/Disney feud back in 2005, with Disney getting upset by the "upstart" Pixar, which in turn was tired of being the sidekick to Disney when in fact their movies were making Disney billions.
Activision Blizzard falls into this trope in an excellent way. Remember Call of Duty, the game that was developed by Infinity Ward, the very same company that gave Activision Blizzard billions of dollars; well, Activision Blizzard has fired two key figures of Infinity Ward and has said that the developer will not make more games of that franchise; instead, Treyarch and a new developer would take care of the franchise. However, this was subverted after several civil suits, Infinity Ward got back together and are working with Activision to make Modern Warfare 3.
Activision is notorious for this. For another example, they had acquired Red Octane entirely for the Guitar Hero franchise, then promptly had Neversoft and a couple other teams pump out as many titles as possible, which, by the end of 2010, had been 13 games in less than five years. At this point, the franchise had made Activision a few billion dollars. The moment sales started slipping, partly due to Activision's self-induced market oversaturation, Red Octane was dissolved and, as of February 2011, the franchise is dead.
After the October Revolution and Civil War in Russia was over, many of its ideologists were purged because Josef Stalin claimed that as vehement revolutionaries they knew nothing except staging rebellions and rooting out inner enemies. Stalin then proceeded to root out "inner enemies" (like Jews, here called "rootless cosmopolitans") until 1953, long after every single member of the original Bolshevik party had been executed or exiled. He was gearing up for another round of this trope when (scientists discovered decades later) he was poisoned by one of his own inner circle, who all feared for their lives.
Basically the philosophy behind the vitality curve, or "rank and yank" corporation HR policy. Every year the 10% of the workforce which have outlived their usefulness, are sacked. The usefulness of the policy has been long debated in HR circles, with many arguing that this system encourages employees to spend more time on interoffice politics than actually working.
The Great Politics Messup caused a great deal of this among the third world. Now that they weren't needed as anti-Communist bullwarks, dictators like Saddam Hussein and Manuel Noriega were cut off by the CIA, hung out to dry by the State Department, and invaded by the US Army. This trope also happened to genuinely good guys like Ahmed Shah Massoud, an anti-Taliban mujahadeen whose calls for assistance in Afghanistan and his claims of radical Islam fermenting there were mostly ignored during the 1990s.
The history of international politics is, in some ways, one example of this trope after another. After almost any major war in which the winning side consisted of an alliance of at least roughly equally powerful states, the alliance breaks up, with the erstwhile allies turning on one another. This happens for two primary reasons: the common enemy that had driven them together in the first place is now gone, and there are now spoils of victory to divide. In short, for each member of the victorious alliance, at least one former ally has outlived its usefulness; of course, since states are often highly resilient, these cases are not necessarily fatal for the states involved (although they can certainly be fatal for many individuals).
In commenting on General George Patton, Eisenhower said that there was no better general when it came to aggressively pursuing a retreating enemy. However, he very pointedly never said that Patton was good general outside of that particular role. Patton's death in a car accident shortly after the end of the war was the only thing that prevented him from being unceremoniously sacked, as his attitude and belligerence was not something that would have been useful facing off against the Soviets and dealing with allies in the newly-forming NATO.
Some argue that the instances of the female eating the male in arthropods are exaggerated, but there are plenty of instances of invertebrates where the very act of mating triggers the programmed death of the animal (or the laying of eggs in the females case). F.e. Octopi.
Although that is arguably more a case of "I have outlived my own usefulness".
Margaret Thatcher was the longest serving Tory Prime Minister of the 20th century, and one of the most successful politicians of all time. She led her party to three consecutive landslide victories, broke the back of the labour movement and the Labour Party, and permanently shifted British politics to the right. But when she became an electoral liability, the Tory party had nothing for her but this.
This is pretty damn common in politics in general. If someone is not leaving an office of their own volition (i.e. retirement) or due to term limits, 9 times out of 10, they're being forced out by other people, which could be either the voters or party higher-ups.
The Nazis were very fond of doing this:
A bleak example from the Holocaust was the Sonderkommando, inmates in Auschwitz who were given good food, cigarettes and lodging by camp standards in exchange for doing the gruesome work of cleaning up and burning all the bodies produced by the gas chambers. While useful, they were also dangerous, as they knew in intricate detail what was going on and how it was being carried out. As a result, Sonderkommandos were regularly gassed and replaced, with the first duty of the replacements being to collect and burn the bodies of their predecessors.
Another prominent Nazi-example: The SA. The Sturmabteilung was vital to the NSDAP's (and Hitler's) rise to power, however, only two years later, the SA was forcibly disbanded during the Night of The Long Knives (aka Operation Hummingbird, aka Röhm Putsch). Most of its high-ranking officers were killed either right then and there or soon after.
Nazi Germany did this to a lot of countries during World War II, including Vichy France after the Allies landed in French North Africa (nominal Vichiyite territory), Italy after the Allies landed in Sicily, and Hungary after they tried to defect. The bungled-up attempt to do this to the Soviet Union (after much initial cooperation, including the joint invasion of Poland and the Soviets providing Germany with resources to fight against France and Britain) sowed much of the seeds of the Nazis' downfall.
There's a legend concerning Napoleon's invasion of Russia. When he finally entered Moscow, he allegedly saw a gigantic golden cross on one of the Kremlin's temples, and wanted it as a trophy. His soldiers could not reach it, but a Russian, a former bellringer, agreed to help. When he finally leveled the cross down, Napoleon ordered the bellringer to be shot... for a treason against Russia.
This happens a lot in Chinese history, especially with the founders of new dynasties, who weaken, or often outright kill, their powerful generals and supporters once their enemies are defeated. There's no point in keeping Four Star Badasses around when the only side they can possibly put their skills to use against is yours.
This is usually averted with secret agents; any people they can coerce into helping them are better alive than dead, especially if they can provide further services in the future.
When France surrendered in World War II, the British Navy attacked and destroyed their fleet at Mers El-Kebir in order to prevent it being used against the UK, killing 1,297 French sailors.
A few months after World War II ended in Europe, Winston Churchill was voted out of office. While he had been a popular and heroic wartime leader, voters were scepitcal about his ability to govern in peacetime and much preferred the plans offered by the Labour Party.
A lot of websites that rely on user contributions to run, particularly some of the more stuffy wikis, have this attitude about their users. As soon as a user ticks off a moderator, makes a poor contribution, or in any way becomes a liability they label that user as a Troll and lay down a ban regardless of the positive contributions that user has made.
Kim Jong Un's pulled this on his own uncle Jang Song Thaek. Jang was the number 2 power in the entire country and helped Kim consolidate power after the death of his father. As soon as that was done, he was hit with countless charges that may or may not even be true, hauled off and executed, and even retroactively removed from all photos.
It is assumed USSR executed Raoul Wallenberg for this exact reason. GPU captured Wallenberg in Budapest, in order to blackmail Sweden on him after the war. He was intended to be exchanged to Soviet refugees in Sweden. As Sweden refused to co-operate, Wallenberg was executed.
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