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Despotism Justifies the Means

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"Then I will become the ultimate ruler of this wasteland engulfed with pandemonium!"

The second and more despicable trope in the unholy trinity of villainous objectives.

Some villains want to take over to bring about a better world, usually with the architect taking over to ensure paradise is brought about smoothly. Other villains want to take over just to make the world worse, with the architect actively trying to make everyone as miserable as possible.

And some villains just want to take over.

Sometimes the catastrophe you engineered to bring yourself to power was not all for the Greater Good, nor was it For the Evulz. Sometimes, it really was just to get you into power.

Whether it is to eliminate the competition or to dissuade any future rebellion, you find that World Domination is hard to achieve without crossing the Moral Event Horizon, sometimes just because Evil Is Easy. Now, the world might turn out to be a better place with you running the show, but just to be clear — that's not why you are trying to do it. Nope, you sacrificed your friends and family, your fellow countrymen (and theirs), and perhaps most of humanity in the name of social advancement. It might turn out to be a Crapsack World — but hey, c'est la vie.

Total global domination is the most common of all villainous goals. But with this trope, the Big Bad takes it too far. They will, if they deem it necessary, nearly destroy the world in pursuit of this goal. Power and position are what they are after and they are not particularly fussy about the state of the world insofar as those ambitions go. Ideology and especially morality are secondary, which means examples of this trope are rarely portrayed in a sympathetic light.note 

This is not to say that they will not care what society looks like after they take over, or that they will have no visions for the future. It simply means that power is their primary goal, and they will do anything to achieve that, even sacrifice whatever beliefs they may have. And ultimately, whatever plans and visions they might have after they attain the power they seek will have the purpose of perpetuating that power. Some of them are vain and petty enough however to care only about them being number one and not willing to accept any form of responsibility which such power would entail. On the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism, they tend to be very much on the Cynical side. In other words, they may suffer from Motive Decay when it turns out that the Utopia they promised to build has been sacrificed for the sake of their own personal power.

For cases when the created Dystopia really is their endgame, more than power, see Dystopia Justifies the Means. For cases in which the despotism has positive side effects, see Pragmatic Villainy. See also Ambition Is Evil (this mindset requires a certain (read: very high) level of ambition) and Control Freak (which is essentially this on a smaller scale). May be a Generic Doomsday Villain, especially if their motives are not explored much.

No Real Life Examples, Please!


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Evil Overlord King Fritz of Attack on Titan had a limitless hunger for power and control, seeking to Take Over the World at any cost even in death. He viewed both his family and his people (the Eldians) as an extension of himself, declaring that so long as Eldia ruled the world, the world was "his." Although he personally cared nothing for either of them, seeing them as nothing but tools to affirm and extend his power and authority to the point that he forced his own daughters to cannibalize their mother to ensure the power of the Titans lived on.
  • Berserk: Griffith only cares about acquiring power and achieving his dream of running a kingdom, and he will stop at nothing to achieve it, up to and including cracking open the Astral Plane and fusing it with the physical world, turning an already Crapsack World into a literal Hell on Earth. Guts even states outright that Griffith won't stop at just a country; he will always want more power.
    Gedfryn: Does he not spare a thought to what he's doing, the means to his ends?
    Guts: That's not quite right. For him, it's the opposite. The means are his ends. Getting his country... is just... another step on the way. He seeks to soar to ever-greater heights. That's the Hawk. That's Griffith.
  • Dragon Ball:
  • Death Note: Though he starts out as a Well-Intentioned Extremist who wants to rid the world of all crime, Light Yagami is also in it to become the god of the new world he wishes to create; over time, Motive Decay results in him solely focused on feeding his raging God complex.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, Father decides that his final evil master plan to bring a god and his power into his body is a fine trade for the 50 million+ souls of Amestris civilians.*
  • Gundam:
    • In Mobile Suit Gundam, Gihren Zabi fully believes this. He's a Social Darwinist and Adolf Hitler-wannabe, but his own personal power comes first and foremost. To that end, he unleashes chemical weapons against the Earth Federation, turns his brother's funeral into a political rally, and cuts off his father, Sovereign Degwin, from all true political power, ultimately committing patricide. His sister, Kycilia, is more ideological than he is, but given her treacherous nature and desire for power, it's likely that she too subscribes to this, and like Gihren, there are few lines she will not cross, experimenting on Newtypes, authorising M'Quve's nuclear attack on Odessa, and shooting Gihren in order to usurp his position. Though that last could have been motivated by revenge for Gihren's murder of their father, because he was in the process of losing the war, or both.
    • Gihren's clone, Glemmy Toto of Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ, also subscribes to this trope, nearly destroying Neo-Zeon in his attempts to take it over and reinstate the Zabi dictatorship. Haman Khan, ruler of Neo-Zeon, rival to Glemmy and one-time ally of Scirocco is no better; she had standards and ideals once upon a time, but after a bad run-in with Char Aznable and her own general disillusionment with humanity those seem to have gone the way of the dodo bird, and she'll do anything to reassert Zeon's rule of the colonies and the Earth Sphere.

    Comic Books 
  • Nemesis the Warlock: Torquemada unveils his backup Weapon of Mass Destruction to destroy all extra-terrestrials at once in the final arc. He handwaves why he hasn't used it before by admitting to Nemesis that to secure his rule over Termight he needed to keep the Terrans in permanent fear and give them an enemy to fight.
  • The Big Bad of Seven Brothers, the Son of Hell, is a sorcerer who wants to take over the world no matter what, even if it means nearly shaking the entire planet to pieces via mystical ley lines — twice. By his own admission, he wants something to rule over (or at least what and whom he deems worthy) but he does a particularly poor job of preserving the planet he intends to rule over.
  • Superman:
  • In Transmetropolitan, Spider Jerusalem says that the Smiler has no reason to claim the presidency beyond the fact that he wants to be the President. He has no agenda he wants to push, he just wants to be in power. And he's willing to do anything, up to and including murdering his own closest people for extra sympathy ratings, to get there.
  • Wonder Woman (1942): Doctor Cyber runs an international criminal syndicate dedicated to world domination and is willing to do whatever it takes to take over the world.

    Fan Works 
  • In the Bound Destinies Trilogy fic Wisdom and Courage, Veran openly states that her ultimate goal is to conquer not only Hyrule but all other lands, including the Sacred Realm itself. Of course, considering the fact that she completely destroys both Hyrule and Termina over the course of the story, it's obvious that any land she actually succeeds in conquering will be nothing but a barren wasteland. During the final battle, Zelda even points out that, despite all of her claims of wanting to avenge her fallen people, it's obvious that all Veran really wants is to gather power for power's sake, as well as using/abusing said power to kill as many innocent people and cause as much collateral damage as possible For the Evulz.
  • Cinderella: The TRUE Sequel: Lady Tremaine makes it abundantly clear that this was her sole intention from the very beginning as she prepares to use the wand on Cinderella, Anastasia and the other royals.
  • Rosario Vampire: Brightest Darkness:
    • This is part of the reason why Falla was passed over as the next chronofly queen in favor of Luna; as pointed out by their mother, Falla was "too focused on the power to use it properly." Indeed, Falla openly admits that she only wanted the position for the power, and is perfectly willing to sacrifice her own family to get it; despite destroying the entire chronofly kingdom and committing genocide of her entire race, sans herself and Luna, all Falla can think of is the crown, even though, thanks to her, there isn't even a kingdom to rule anymore!
    • Babylon, the Big Bad of Acts V and VI. It's outright stated that all he wants is to conquer The Multiverse and rule over all worlds as their king. Considering the fact that his minions leave at least two human cities in ruin and the fact that in Act VI chapter 38, before Complica's Reset Button attempt, he gives the vanguard of his army free reign to Rape, Pillage, and Burn to their heart's content, it's very clear that he doesn't care what condition the worlds he conquers are in as long as he's the one ruling them.

    Films — Animated 
  • Antz: General Mandible plans to rid the colony of its "weaker elements" — the queen ant, the soldiers loyal to her, and the workers — so that he can rebuild the colony to his liking and populate it with his own offspring. Though he justifies his actions as "for the good of the colony", his declaration that he is the colony proves his motives to be purely selfish and self-aggrandizing.
  • Often seen in Disney movies:
    • The Lion King (1994): Scar isn't interested in anything but being King, and he was quite happy to murder his brother, try to murder his nephew, and turn the Pride Lands into Mordor to do it, although it's implied in the musical that he regrets the last part, especially when it's actually going to cost him his kingship.
    • Ursula/Morgana from The Little Mermaid (1989) and Jafar from Aladdin care nothing for less than becoming ruler and have absolutely no qualms of backstabbing their current ruler, murdering people (or worse, in the case of Ursula), or killing anyone in their way.
    • This was most likely the ultimate goal of Lady Tremaine from "Cinderella", as she focuses all her efforts on marrying Anastasia and/or Drizella into the royal family, or at least nobility. This idea is hinted at further in A Twist in Time as Lady Tremaine seizes Fairy Godmother's wand, and uses it to turn back the hands of time to the day Cinderella tried on her glass slipper. Tremaine makes every effort she can to find a way to get Anastasia hitched with the Prince, even going as far as trying to have the real Cinderella killed off, with Anastasia assuming her appearance. However, a remorseful Anastasia refuses to marry the Prince in front of an amazed Cinderella, Lady Tremaine begins turning the King's guards into farm animals, before attempting to do the same to both Cinderella and Anastasia when the former tries to protect her stepsister. Tremaine would most likely have done the same to the King and Grand Duke forcing the kingdom to bow to her demonic rule.
    • Hades from Hercules is willing to ally with the destructive forces of nature that the Titans represent and let them turn Earth into an apocalyptic wasteland, as long as they remember who the top-manager-guy upstairs is. Whether mortals suffer under his reign is of no concern to him.
    • Dawn Bellwether, the real Big Bad of Zootopia, at first appears to be motivated by prejudice towards predators, but it gradually unfolds that she's more in it for the power.
      Judy: So that's it?! Prey fears predator and you stay in power?!
      Bellwether: Yeah, pretty much.
      Judy: It won't work!
      Bellwether: Fear always works.
  • In The Prince of Egypt, Ramesses is portrayed as a more sympathetic version of this, refusing to be the "weak link" that would destroy their dynasty.
  • During his Villain Song in The Princess and the Pea, Laird sings about how he doesn't care if his subjects are starving or overtaxed so long as he gets to be king.
  • Shrek:
    • The only thing Prince Charming did with Far Far Away upon conquering it in Shrek the Third was to force everybody to watch a musical he wrote and starred in about what a great person he thought he was. Though to be fair, he only ruled it for a week at the absolute most. Perhaps if his mother was still around (and/or Shrek, Fiona, and their fairy tale friends weren't around to depose him), he would have been able to come up with some kind of government policy.
    • Rumpelstiltskin, the Big Bad of Shrek Forever After, takes it even further; in the Alternate Universe where he rules Far Far Away, the entire city is a derelict, rotting mess of a town, and both Shrek's friends and the ogre population are used as slaves.

    Films — Live-Action 

  • In The Belgariad, the evil god Torak believes that Dystopia Justifies the Means and wants a world bowing down to him in worship and making human sacrifices. His Dragon, Ctuchik, simply wants to rule the world and is willing to exploit Torak's religion to get what he wants.
  • Ferals Series: The Mother of Flies seeks to place flies at the top of the feral hierarchy, even if it means rendering the whole of Blackstone into a dystopia. Caw even calls her out on it.
    Caw: You just want power no matter what it costs. Who wants to rule over a dead city?
  • A Frozen Heart: The only thing the king of the Southern Isles cares about is maintaining his iron-fisted grip over his subjects at all costs, leaving his youngest son Hans to wonder how his father "could be so stupid". Hans may be a two-faced, treacherous snake, but at least he realizes that it's better off to have a happy kingdom with commoners who actually support you.
  • The Gilded Chamber: Haman will go to great lengths to obtain power, and does not care how much blood he has to shed as long as he ends up on top. He goes so far as to regularly execute opponents, real or perceived.
  • Lord Voldemort's ultimate mindset in Harry Potter, summed up by his minion at the climax of Philosopher's Stone: "There is no good and evil, there is only power, and those too weak to seek it."
  • The Lord Ruler in Mistborn: The Original Trilogy was a Well-Intentioned Extremist who degraded into this trope over his reign as God-Emperor. While he seized power to prevent the god Ruin from escaping its prison and destroying the world, a thousand years as Secret-Keeper with Ruin itself whispering in his mind left him so fixated on power that he becomes a superpowered Hope Crusher at the head of a tyrannical, totalitarian regime that deliberately keeps most of its citizens in misery too abject to escape.
  • Toward the end of Nineteen Eighty-Four, the protagonist has a conversation with a representative of the oppressive government, who asks him why he thinks the government has gone to such lengths to control people's lives. He says that he supposes it's because they're trying to do what's best for the people; the government representative laughs at him and says that really they did it because they wanted power for its own sake. This then shifts into Dystopia Justifies the Means when he gets onto how one man asserts power over another: "By making him suffer."
  • This is the worldview of the rulers in Janusz Zajdel's Paradyzja. They claim that they're in constant danger from Earth, but are actually trading with it, selling minerals and ores and buying mostly electronics to better watch their subjects with.
  • Treadwell in David Weber's Path of the Fury has no real goal beyond becoming Emperor — he even plans on getting freely elected — and he has no qualms about committing multiplanetary genocide to get it done.
  • The main character of Perfume envisions a world where everyone bows to his god-like sense of smell, and he's willing to kill anyone he has to, without remorse, to get it. He is on the verge of succeeding when he gets a taste of what it would be like and decides that it's not what he wanted after all.
  • The Silerian Trilogy: Kiloran has no apparent goal beyond becoming the tyrant of Sileria, using increasingly harsh methods to achieve that end.
  • Littlefinger, of A Song of Ice and Fire, who has been specifically described as willing to burn down the Kingdom if it meant he could rule the ashes.
  • Sword Art Online: Everything Nobuyuki Sugou does throughout the Fairy Dance arc is for the sake of making himself a god, both in ALO and in the real world. This is a key component in his mind-control research and experiments on the 300 SAO players.
  • Tolkien's Legendarium:
    • In The Lord of the Rings, Sauron starts out motivated by Utopia Justifies the Means, but while his goal was always to create his idea of order, by the time the novel takes place, he's suffered Motive Decay so that his fundamental goal was to perpetuate his own power. He did not, however, fall as far as the original Dark Lord, Morgoth, who went completely into Dystopia Justifies the Means — while cruelty was a tool for Sauron, it became an end in itself for his former master.
    • In his analysis of The Silmarillion, Christopher Tolkien describes this as Sauron's whole motivation for taking over Middle-Earth, unlike his old master Morgoth who became an Omnicidal Maniac who wanted to grind the whole world into dust (which still would not satisfy him because the dust would still exist) because he did not create it himself.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Servalan, the Big Bad of Blake's 7. Although she makes the appropriate speeches to justify the Terran Federation's tyranny, her schemes are invariably about advancing her own power, and some of them seriously harm Federation interests.
  • Princess Catarina of Artena in Deus Salve O Rei, which is not surprising, given that she was based on Cersei, listed below. She aspires to rule over the two greatest kingdoms in the region — her own and Montemor — and is willing to to stage a war with the king of Montemor so that her kingdom can be conquered, Catarina herself being taken hostage so she can marry him and arrange for his disposal later on, effectively ruling on her own.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Varys comments that Littlefinger "would see this kingdom burn if he could be king of the ashes".
    • By the season seven finale, Cersei Lannister finally understands the threat of the White Walkers, realizes they will march on the lands... and is still willing to let everyone else die rather than do anything that jeopardizes her seat on the throne.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series: In "Mirror, Mirror", the Terran Empire in the Mirror Universe runs under the notion that if the regime ever lets up from its brutality, the whole thing will fall apart.
    Mirror-Spock: Terror must be maintained or the Empire is doomed. It is the logic of history.
    Prime-Kirk: Conquest is easy, control is not...
  • Big Jim Rennie of Under the Dome starts to become this towards the end of the first season. It's made clear as early as the pilot that Big Jim wants more power over the closed-off town, though some of his actions throughout the season made him more sympathetic to viewers. However, his murder of Dodee the penultimate episode of season one, combined with his dialogue therein, is proof positive that he'd greatly prefer if the Dome never goes away, so long as he can continue to use mob mentality to manipulate the citizens of Chester's Mill.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Mister Saint Laurent wanted as much control of Full Impact Pro as he possibly could, to the point he actively sought to ruin FIP shows. He even convinced wrestlers booked on FIP shows to join his "MSL Universe" for the sole purpose of cancelling their bookings and putting them on the shows of rival companies until FIP either went under or gave in to his demands.
  • Montel Vontavious Porter's motivation for investing in TNA was to take ownership of a company after learning about and failing in the political aspect of wrestling. He became Operator of Wrestling Operations and all was good but then he saw Donald Sterling lose ownership of his team, the Los Angeles Clippers, and realized being OOWO still wasn't enough control, he wanted control that he knew couldn't be taken away...

    Tabletop Games 
  • In BattleTech, the Succession Wars that followed the collapse of the Star League were a mass case of despotism. The rulers of each of the five Successor States wanted to be the ruler of a reborn Star League, and were willing to do anything to claim the title. The end result was 35 years of total warfare and war crimes that utterly devastated the scientific and technological base of humanity, leading to Lost Technology and a sharp decline in quality of life across known space, and ended up accomplishing nothing in the end beyond a total stalemate. Another two hundred years of war followed a brief interlude.
  • One of the hats of Lawful Evil and sometimes even Lawful Neutral characters in Dungeons & Dragons and similar works: the goal is to be the one(s) in charge, and thus impose their will into law. So maybe a few (thousand) innocents die along the way, and maybe an ancient civilization is burned to the ground, and okay so the entire plane has been thrown into upheaval because of who your backup army was and who your ultimate target was, but the point is, you're the one calling the shots, and things are going exactly according to your plan.
  • The collectible version of Illuminati offers the Power For Its Own Sake card, changing the goal of the game for its player into simple accumulation of power without regard for the conspiracy's ideology.
  • Mage: The Awakening: The Seers of the Throne work to keep the population from achieving enlightenment because that means mages out of their control.
  • Warhammer 40,000: While every person who falls to Chaos has a different motive (some genuinely want to reform the corrupt and dying Imperium, some want to make their lives better, some want to save their families...), in the end, those who don't go insane pretty much all angle for ascension to daemonhood, becoming immortal and carving out their own corner of the Warp as their personal playground for eternity.

  • Hamlet: Uncle Claudius poisons his brother the King and marries his wife. Aside from getting most of the main characters killed, he's not really a bad king.
  • Macbeth, a loyal general who murders the King to replace him.
  • The title character of Richard III (as William Shakespeare depicts him, no matter what you think of his Real Life counterpart) kills a great many people in order to become King of England but is at a loss for what to do once he gets there (other than killing more people so he can stay there).

    Video Games 
  • In Baldur's Gate III, Barbarian Hero Karlach's Arch-Enemy Lord Enver Gortash was a megalomaniac with Social Darwinist beliefs which led to him being The Chosen One of the god of conquest and tyranny, Bane, and he takes over the titular city simply because he wanted to. Unfortunately for him, his partners in the Big Bad Triumvirate believed in Dystopia Justifies the Means, causing him no end of frustration to the point he's willing to share his power with the player character just to get rid of them.
  • BioShock: In spite of Andrew Ryan's rhetoric about freedom, he certainly ends up resorting to a lot of totalitarian tactics, up to and including political murder, kidnapping, slavery, and mind-control. It's a pretty serious case of in-story Motive Decay. We also discover that he was also quite willing to subvert his economic views just as willingly to keep his powerbase from crumbling — his decision to put a presumed dead rival's business under government control (his control) prompted a formerly loyal aide to (unsuccessfully) assassinate Ryan. The novelization suggests that Ryan's rhetoric was easily misunderstood: the core of his personal identity was that of the entirely Self-Made Man who had never been helped by anybody and who had earned everything he could seize. In his view, freedom equated with survival of the fittest, which he clearly was — so, as in a free society nobody could ever threaten his rule, threats were a sign outside forces were oppressing the people, including him. (He did also ridiculously screw up in assuming going underwater would minimize labor and lead to post-scarcity, of course.)
  • This seems to be the primary goal of Handsome Jack in Borderlands 2. He plans to use an alien superweapon to conquer Pandora (and eventually entire galaxies) despite the fact that as the president of the most powerful MegaCorp in the game he's already in a position of nigh-untouchable power.
  • In DEFCON, you play as a Non-Entity General in a nuclear command center at the start of an escalating war. Your goal is to ensure the communists/capitalists/whatever die in a nuclear fire, leaving your country as the only power left in the world. In the "Diplomacy" mode, everyone is in an alliance at the start as it breaks down, leading you to backstab your allies. "Genocide" scoring grants points to whoever has the highest bodycount, without the usual score penalty for losing your own cities.
  • In the Descent trilogy, Samuel Dravis is a sociopathic Corrupt Corporate Executive whose only goal in life is to get as much money as possible, even if that involves spreading a computer virus that turns all of PTMC's robots into killing machines and has no qualms betraying and/or murdering anyone who is no longer necessary.
  • The agenda of Majestic 12 in the first Deus Ex is to achieve global dominance by establishing themselves as the only force capable of ending crucial problems — problems that they created for this exact purpose, including bio-engineered virulent disease, economic collapse, supporting terrorism and widespread narcotics use.
  • Devil May Cry:
    • Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening: Arkham's entire plot is nothing more than to steal Sparda's power for himself and become a god. He previously sacrificed his own wife in a ritual for power to this end.
    • Devil May Cry 5: Urizen (a.k.a. Vergil) only cares about gaining power, and if he has to unleash a blood-sucking demon tree upon the human world and slaughter an entire city full of humans to get it, then so be it. This ends up biting him in the ass; Dante is ultimately able to defeat Urizen because he actually fights to protect others and those he cares about, whereas Urizen just wants power for power's sake as a result of Vergil sacrificing his humanity to obtain said power.
  • Fallout:
  • Halo:
    • The Ur-Didact's primary goal is to restore the Forerunners' former glory and ensure that they alone wield the Mantle of Responsibility. By eliminating not just the Flood, but humanity too. This is due in part of his Mind Rape by the Gravemind.
    • The High Prophets of Truth, Regret, and Mercy commanded the Covenant Empire to wipe out humanity, because they found out that humans are the rightful inheritors of the Forerunners' legacy, and this revelation would shatter the Prophets' rule over the Covenant. They are willing to glass entire worlds to eliminate every last human and have no problem disposing of their own forces or backstabbing each other.
  • Injustice: After he was driven to a Face–Heel Turn by the Joker, Regime Superman is motivated by Utopia Justifies the Means via his hardline stance on crime. But being confronted with a bad stream of events and Batman's insurgency against his tyrannical dictatorship causes Superman to cling on power at all costs. In addition, he justifies killing the Joker in the tie-in comic by saying it was "one death to save millions of lives," but everyone knows he was really motivated by revenge and not altruism. When he kills his ally and friend Lex Luthor on live TV in the first game, his selfish side fully manifests when he unleashes his military and Doomsday against the "ungrateful" public to suppress dissent. The Tyrant of Steel even kills Shazam just for calling him out.
  • Jak II: Renegade: Baron Praxis will do anything to stay in power as ruler of Haven City, up to and including bribing the Metal Heads to attack the city so he can justify his brutal, fascist rule as necessary.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • Ganondorf's goal is to rule the entire world by obtaining the Triforce to give him the power to do so. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker later expands upon this: he originally envied the Hylians for their lush green lands while his people, the Gerudo, were forced to be Desert Bandits, so he devised a plan to take over Hyrule with the Triforce. But eventually, his lust for power overtook his original desires, leading to him commanding hordes of monsters and demons in his bid for power. The fact that he's also the reincarnation of the setting's Satanic Archetype didn't help matters either.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess: After defeating Zant, Midna outright spells it out for him that this trope is why he was passed over for the Twilight Realm's throne in favor of her: because he only wanted the throne for the power.
      Midna: Traitors, ha! You want to know why none would call you king? It was your eyes, Zant. All saw it, a lust for power burning in your pupils... Did you think we'd forget our ancestors lost their king to such greed?
  • Master Detective Archives: Rain Code: Yomi Hellsmile, director of the Amaterasu Corporation Peacekeepers, does not care who he has to kill or who suffers in general as a result of his desire to simply be the only one in charge over Kanai Ward. Not even Makoto is as bad as he is, as while he is just as much of a despot as the CEO and the cause of everything bad that happens for the sake of gaining control by his own methods, Makoto is only that way by proxy than by choice, thanks to Yomi's despotism. Yomi chose to act that way, which is the incriminating difference between the two of them.
  • Mortal Kombat: All Shao Kahn cares about is lording over Outworld even if others complain about his tyranny. The only law under his rule is the law of the jungle. He also encourages the various races and realms he's conquered to fight for his favor. If Kahn no longer sees a purpose to allow one of his servants or an entire race to exist, he can and will have them all wiped out, especially if a more useful group is among the newly conquered. At the end, he is a bloodthirsty warlord who doesn't care for the well-being of his subjects.
  • The Dark Powers in Nexus Clash are motivated mainly by a desire to be the shaper and de facto ruler of the next world. Since there's three of them and only one Elder Power can do this per cycle of the universe, this puts them at each others' throats as much as it pits them against the forces of Good.
  • In most Pokémon games, the main villains are some flavor of either Well-Intentioned Extremist or Visionary Villain, while Giovanni is out for simple profit and is at least a Noble Demon. However, the main villain of Pokémon Black and White and Pokémon Black 2 and White 2, Ghetsis, is only motivated by sheer sociopathic lust for power.
  • In Portal 2, Wheatley, after undergoing a Big Bad Slippage and taking over the Enrichment Center, becomes a maniacal despot who couldn't care less about the facility falling apart under his control as he pursues Chell and GLaDOS.
  • Resident Evil 6: Carla Radames' ultimate goal with the C-Virus outbreaks is simply to wipe out civilization completely and rule over the chaos that remains.
  • Shin Megami Tensei:
    • YHVH maintains the crapsack status of the SMT universe at large by involving everyone on his side, be it angel, Messian, or whoever, in a Forever War with Lucifer out of an all-consuming desire to create a "perfect world" — a world where people can't do wrong. Not a world where they won't... they simply can't. A world where he can rule, forever and ever. This puts him at odds however with his own Law Faction ironically enough, which really does at times mostly advocate for Utopia Justifies the Means. Thus, Satan in Shin Megami Tensei II and Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse is fully willing to judge YHVH for favoring his own power over the ideals of law, showing that the faction is sincere in its egalitarianism and standards. In Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey, ironically enough on Strange Journey Redux's New Game Plus, YHVH himself (formed through the fusion of Metatron and the Demiurge) is willing to abide by a lawful utopia that doesn't dedicate itself to constantly worshipping him, and can stand against Shekinah who would rather have the despotic world prevail, even though it's doomed to failure.
    • The antagonists of Persona 5 all have this objective, to varying degrees, and they are willing to commit numerous atrocities and injustices in the name of protecting their positions or gaining more power. The most clear-cut example of this is Masayoshi Shido, a politician who seeks to become Prime Minister by absolutely any means necessary, up to and including destroying anyone who ever slights him or seems to pose a threat. His Palace is a Cruise Ship sailing over a flooded country, showing how his deepest desire is to stay afloat even if the entire nation around him is drowned. The two endgame bosses, Yaldabaoth and Dr. Maruki, in the Updated Re-release Royal are downplayed subversions of this trope. The former does intend to create an orderly world first and foremost but believes that this is what humanity wants. The latter is sincere in his desire to make the world a happier place and isn't lusting for power.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog: Eggman seems to have this attitude towards his world conquest schemes. The Bad Future levels of Sonic the Hedgehog CD are nothing but derelict, post-apocalyptic ruins, the opening of Sonic Unleashed has him use a Wave-Motion Gun to crack the Earth open, and in Sonic Lost World, when he makes his move after Sonic takes out the Deadly Six, he remarks that, while it's a pity that the Six have largely destroyed the world below, at least there's still enough of said world left for him to conquer. In Sonic Forces, he's plotting to completely annihilate Sonic, all his friends, and possibly everyone else who isn't on his side by dropping an artificial star on them in order to retain control of the world.
    Eggman: The world will be nothing but ashes, from which a glorious Eggman Empire will rise!
  • StarCraft: Arcturus Mengsk let the Zerg kill off the oppressive Confederacy, so he could create his Terran Dominion which uses the same methods as the Confederacy.
    Megnsk: I will not be stopped. Not by you, or the Confederates, or the Protoss, or anyone! I will rule this sector or see it burnt to ashes around me.
  • Street Fighter III has Urien, the younger brother of Gill. While Gill is a Well-Intentioned Extremist, Urien simply wants to acquire power for himself and rule over the world with an iron fist.
  • Everything the Grandmaster from Strider (Arcade) does is only to satisfy his overblown ego and ambitions of godhood, humanity be damned. He took over the world but felt entirely unsatisfied because he wanted everyone on the planet to accept his rule, something practically impossible due to those who openly opposed him and those who weren't civilized enough to understand him. So, what did he decide to do? Incinerate all life on the planet, the "Sons of Old Gods", then use his life-creating powers to repopulate the planet with a new human race which would all worship him as a New God. And then, it gets worse. At some point, his plans succeed, and, 2000 years later in Strider 2, the world is inhabited by a new, artificial humanity that worships him as their Creator. What does he do once he awakes in this world, after a two-millennia sleep? He finds its corruption and decadent state so beyond repair that he simply decides to destroy the planet and leave to find a new planet to start the process all over again.
  • Bowser's ultimate goal in all Super Mario Bros. games is to rule over the whole world. In most games, he aims to rule the Mushroom Kingdom by forcing Princess Peach to marry him, but in the Super Mario Galaxy series and Yoshi's Island DS, he aims to rule the universe. To be fair, in the RPG games, it's made clear he also has a weird crush on Peach. Anyway, New Super Mario Bros. U shows what he will do with the Mushroom Kingdom once he has it: Turn it into a classic World 8 Lethal Lava Land, much like his home kingdom.
  • A rare main character example in Threads of Fate with Mint's main goal being world domination. She never elaborates on what she would do with the world, but we do know she wants to go back to her former princess life and get back at her sister for taking her place as the heir.
  • In Tooth and Tail, this is the goal of the Civilized. Their intention is to make sure the Civil War is as destructive as possible so that when they finally put down the rebellion and get back on top no one can question how much better their order is for society. In the final mission, the other three factions abandon the war and create a new society based on cooperation. The Civilized re-start the war and attack them because the new society would mean them not being in charge somewhere.
  • World of Warcraft:

  • The Order of the Stick:
    • In contrast to his happy-go-lucky brother Elan, Nale wants to rule an empire so that everyone knows how clever he is. Also, the bigger and more extravagant his victory, the better. Tarquin even notes that Nale's not really concerned with anything other than sating his own ego.
    • Elan's father Tarquin plays with this. He initially tries a Utopia Justifies the Means argument on Elan, but his actual behavior indicates this justification is mostly academic. He certainly likes being ruler of an empire (well, three empires really, but still) just for the power and wealth it brings him, but that's not really his entire, nor even his primary, motivation. He thinks his Chaotic Good son, Elan, is a hero of great standing. Like his son, Tarquin is incredibly Genre Savvy and "knows" his son will come to overthrow the Evil Overlord, namely Tarquin, because that is what would happen in heroic fantasy narratives. As such, Tarquin's despotism is not primarily for himself, but rather because it's what he thinks he's supposed to do. Outside of his role as the Big Bad Evil Overlord to Elan's role as The Hero, he has no identity. Unfortunately for him, Elan is not The Hero, and Tarquin is not the Big Bad.
    • Daimyo Kubota is a pretty extreme example: he schemes to take Lord Shojo's place as ruler of Azure City, even after the city falls to Redcloak's army and is evacuated — apparently, a now meaningless title is still worth killing for to him.
  • In Tower of God, the goal of God-Emperor Jahad — who already rules the world, mind you — seems to be absolute unshakable domination over everything, including fate itself, and he apparently thinks nothing at this point of sacrificing anyone else for the goal. It probably started out as a case of Utopia Justifies the Means.

    Western Animation 
  • Amphibia: The Core, the true Big Bad of the series, strip-mines Amphibia of its resources and turns it into a Polluted Wasteland so it can ascend back to Multiversal Conqueror status.
  • This is the motivation of Fire Lord Ozai of Avatar: The Last Airbender, in contrast to his Well-Intentioned Extremist grandfather Sozin, who believed that Utopia Justifies the Means. To drive the point home, he relinquishes the title of Fire Lord to his daughter Azula and declares himself the Phoenix King.
  • In Ego Trip, Mandark's goal is to seize Dexter's Neurotomic Protocore in order to rule the world. However, when he inadvertently sets the positive flow to negative, it causes every mind on the planet except him, Dexter, and Dee Dee to become numb, allowing him to steal every facet of technology in society, resulting in a futuristic broken wasteland where everyone is a numbskull while he rules over them as the Overlord, hoarding all scientific knowledge for himself.
  • The Legend of Korra:
    • Unalaq is driven by lust for power. He underhandedly got his brother banished from the Northern Water Tribe so he could become chief, and later manipulated said brother's daughter, the Avatar repeatedly in order to further his goal: to become the Avatar of Vaatu, spirit of evil, and rule the entire world.
    • The Earth Queen is the complete opposite of her father, being a greedy tyrant who taxed her citizens to oblivion to fund her lavish lifestyle, undid all the progress that her father did (believing that Aang openly exploited his weak-willed nature) and is not above exploiting her power to create a secret army of airbenders. Her tyranny is ended by Zaheer, who — as a Bomb Throwing Anarchist — is the most unlikely type of person to be intimidated by her.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic gives us Nightmare Moon, who wants to rule because she felt unappreciated; Discord, who wants to rule so he can tear shit up; Queen Chrysalis, who wants to rule to feed herself and her subjects... and then Lord Tirek, who firmly fits this trope. He wants to drain the magic out of every single pony in the world, both making him absurdly powerful as well as giving him full control over weather, seasons, plant life, and basically everything the ponies do (since they can't do it any longer). He seems to have no grand plans above and beyond "Get power, get control, ?????, PROFIT!"
  • In She-Ra and the Princesses of Power Horde Prime's goal appears to be to turn the entire universe into a religion solely dedicated to worshipping him, whose congregation is all brainwashed clones of him. He talks about bringing order and peace to the galaxy, but it is extremely obvious that he only means for himself.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM): Every single action Dr. Robotnik takes works towards one goal: making sure that no one and nothing on Mobius exists outside of his control, from sapient beings all the way down to cattle and insects. He doesn't at all care how much he has to destroy to make that happen; his efforts thus far have turned much of Mobius into a Polluted Wasteland, and his Doomsday Project was specifically designed to wipe out all remaining organic life on the planet simply because it was taking too long to hunt them all down the hard way.
  • Eric Cartman from South Park performs all sorts of heinous acts for the sole purpose of sating his own ego by taking control of either the school or the hometown, whether it's manipulating fear-induced, religious devotion in order to make $10,000,000 in "Probably", slandering segments of the student body to become class president in "Dancing With Smurfs", or making money off of crack babies in "Crack Baby Athletic Association".


Video Example(s):


Dawn Bellwether

Dawn claims that she is uniting all prey against the predators, but after it was revealed that she is behind the Night Howler conspiracy, Judy immediately points out that all this is just so she can stay in power.

How well does it match the trope?

4.56 (18 votes)

Example of:

Main / NotSoWellIntentionedExtremist

Media sources: