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Dystopia Justifies the Means

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"Do you begin to see, then, what kind of world we are creating? It is the exact opposite of the stupid hedonistic Utopias that the old reformers imagined. A world of fear and treachery and torment, a world of trampling and being trampled upon, a world which will grow not less but more merciless as it refines itself. Progress in our world will be progress towards more pain. The old civilizations claimed that they were founded on love or justice. Ours is founded upon hatred. In our world there will be no emotions except fear, rage, triumph, and self-abasement. Everything else we shall destroy — everything."

The third, final, and most despicable trope in the unholy trinity of villainous objectives, Dystopia Justifies the Means is where the goal of the Big Bad is nothing less than the deliberate creation of a Dystopia, a land, planet, universe or multiverse of perpetual misery and suffering, or some other form of evil. The result can be a Crapsack World, Villain World, Hell on Earth, or some combination thereof.

The villains out to achieve this usually have flown well beyond the Moral Event Horizon long ago. Justified for villains Made of Evil, like The First in the Buffyverse, as they actually feed on the world's malice and misery. Most demon lords, eldritch abominations, gods of evil, evil cosmic entities, and villains defined by doing evil only for the sake of evil itself will probably pursue this goal.

This trope can occasionally overlap with Utopia Justifies the Means. Perhaps they are esoteric utopians who wish to make a world that is great for them or their kind, but nightmarish for everyone else — Blood Knights who want a Forever War, vampires who desire The Night That Never Ends, bigots who want to rule as a Master Race and relegate the rest to slavery etc. Other times, they see themselves as genuinely wanting the best for everybody, but they operate on Blue-and-Orange Morality or are Obliviously Evil, so the society they want to create will be terrible but they will be too stubborn to admit it or delusional to even see it — the Social Darwinist, Bomb Throwing Anarchist, and the Totalitarian Utilitarian represent different flavours of such thinking.

It can also overlap with Despotism Justifies the Means when the dystopia is not merely a side-effect or the result of incompetence or cowardice, but something the would-be despot sees as desirable and essential for truly maintaining ultimate power — they may be The Paranoiac and think that the most obedient population is one kept in perpetual fear, or they might be The Caligula or a Sadist and believe that the only real and meaningful kind of ultimate power is where they are free to rule as a tyrant and abuse and terrorize people however and whenever they wish. This can also cover those who actually profit from keeping the people in a state of misery, such as the ruler who uses Divide and Conquer or Anarcho-Tyranny to prevent themselves from being ousted, The Quisling who sells out their own countrymen to an evil foreign power, or a ruthless profiteer who turns either their own country or another (or both) into a business venture where resources, property and people are exploited and sold and run into the ground.

The purest variant, however, is one where the dystopia is the goal with no particular benefit to anyone, even the character who desires it. They may be a Straw Nihilist who thinks that a miserable and cynical world is the most brutally honest one, they might be a Misanthrope Supreme who wants everyone to suffer in revenge for some real or imagined slights, or they might just be violent thugs who want To Create a Playground for Evil. Regardless, the type of villain pursuing Dystopia Justifies The Means will not be satisfied just with obtaining ultimate power; they will desire to use that power towards a particularly vile end — to remake the world into a place of suffering for its own sake, valuing it just as much, if not more than their own power.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Light Yagami from Death Note wants to turn the world into a Utopia free of social evils, particularly crime, but he's also The Social Darwinist and his long-term plans include getting rid of the sick, the lazy, the disabled and anyone else he deems useless to society. His method of choice is a magical notebook that kills anyone whose name is written in it, causing people around the world to believe he is God cleansing the world of evil...something he completely buys into as well, and he is soon thinking of himself as the "God of the New World" and wants everyone to worship him as such too. The society he starts to build is largely free of crime and corruption, but it's also peopled entirely by those who either idolise a mass murderer that they think is a deity but is actually just an Ax-Crazy teenager with delusions of grandeur, or who live in constant terror of said mass murderer, or those who do both.
  • Inverted with Lord Demon's Digimon V-Tamer 01 plan. Dystopia, in this case being a war that wrecks the way of life on the continent of Folder and shortens the life expectancy of its inhabitants. Demon is very pleased with his actions causing most Folder monsters to die young, but the goal is to wipe out humanity with a virus. The Digimon World is designed to prevent human interaction with it but fights between powerful monsters weaken the world's barriers, allowing things to slip in. And once the right human tamer is brought in Demon believes his child can become a monster strong enough to slip out.
  • Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z:
  • Genma Wars: The Maoh King has ruled over a devastated Earth for millennia and fathered several half-breed children (often with unwilling women) just to have them fight each other and engineer countless conflicts over the ages to stave off his boredom. This was actually enforced by Maoh's real master, the Great Genma King, who had originally drove Earth's society (roughly our modern times) to the ground just before destroying it altogether with nuclear war all just to create stronger breeds of Genma.
  • Gesellschaft Blume: The world is very strictly structured with a Demon Lord being scheduled to appear every four years for the sake of balance.
  • The Major and the rest of Millennium from Hellsing. Aside from their goal of killing Alucard, their desire is to wage endless war and see all living things die in extreme pain.
  • Naruto: Pain's plan for the Tailed Beasts is a rare tragic example that subverts Utopia Justifies the Means. He wanted to create and give free access to a Fantastic Nuke so powerful its use would deter future wars, seemingly forever. But he eventually explains that he doesn't expect this peace to last, just create a Vicious Cycle that alternates between mass annihilation and living in fear thereof. In essence, Pain became so obsessed with bringing peace that he went past Utopia Justifies the Means to aiming for a world technically at peace, but worse off for it.
  • One Piece: It's eventually revealed that this is Orochi's goal. His grandfather tried to poison rivals in order to take the throne of Wano for the Kurozumi clan. He was found out and forced to commit seppuku, but the people of Wano persecuted the entire clan. When Orochi eventually managed to claim the throne with Kaido's help, he dedicated his rule to making the entire country suffer as much as possible for what they did to his family.
    • Kaido, himself. How his Death Seeker tendencies translates into an actual plan: transforming Wano into a lawless paradise and waging war on the rest of the world in hopes of finding something to kill him.
  • Undefeated Bahamut Chronicle: Unlike most of the other villains in the series, who fall under Despotism Justifies the Means, the King of Vices isn't just ambitious. She deliberately makes the Heiburg Republic a hellhole where corrupt officers are free to abuse citizens and sell them into sex slavery. Worse yet, she's a Shadow Dictator pretending to be one of the few good officers, just to derive perverse pleasure from being praised by the very citizens that she oppresses.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman:
    • Being a Straw Nihilist, the Joker's ultimate goal is To Create a Playground for Evil by giving as many people as possible "one bad day" in an attempt to prove that Humans Are Bastards. His murderous behaviour — as well as his suicidal recklessness — are violent acts of protest and despair at the world and not purely For the Evulz, with his battle with Batman being an ideological one over who is correct.
    • Night of the Owls: The Court of Owls is a secret cabal of rich and powerful people who keep Gotham in its crime ridden state simply because they can, and have been doing it for centuries.
  • Captain America: The Red Skull's ideal world varies between a violent Police State and a lawless, chaotic hellhole; in either case, he believes that the strong could and should brutalize the weak, commits mass murder on a regular basis, and demands absolute power which he wants to use primarily to oppress and torture people, not simply power for its own sake. And he enjoys it, every minute of it.
  • The Anti-Monitor in Crisis on Infinite Earths wants to destroy every positive-matter universe just so he can use their energy to expand the Anti-Matter universe, a universe of evil beings that he rules absolutely.
  • Doctor Strange has Dormammu, the immortal and unstoppable God-Emperor of the mystical "Dark Dimension", worshipped as a deity in thousands of other universes, something worse than a demon, older and far more powerful than any elder god, with the ultimate goal of slaughtering any rival higher powers, assuming control of all life and afterlife, and turning both into an inescapable neverending torture camp from birth to death and anything beyond.
  • Fables: Mister Dark falls into the Made of Evil variant of this trope. Since he is the Anthropomorphic Personification of fear of the dark and human depravity, creating a world where everyone is miserable and violent would make him happy and strong.
  • New Gods: Darkseid's ultimate goal is use the Anti-Life equation to rob everyone in the universe of happiness and free will, turning them into nihilistic mind-slaves whose only purpose in life will be to worship him. Apokolips itself is a kind of hellish space-age Greco-Roman world where the majority of the populace exist as slaves working to build a never-ending supply of monuments to him; on the rare occasions when they rebel, Darkseid simply makes those slaves the new slavemasters and due to a lifetime of conditioning they are just as petty and cruel as their predecessors. This is combined with Despotism Justifies the Means, since he wants nothing more or less but total control, but has a pathological need to make everyone suffer once he gets it. Essentially, he wants to break the spirit of every living thing in Creation and make himself their new God.
  • Titans: Beast World reveals this as the main reason for Amanda Waller's slide into out-and-out villainy. She believes that humanity doesn't want to be guided and be better, but want to be ruled over and given objects to hate and fear.
  • The Smiler, Big Bad of Transmetropolitan, openly admits to running for President so that he can mess around with America until bits start falling off. He gets his wish. The results aren't pretty.
  • X-Men: Apocalypse's ideal society is a bombed-out radioactive wasteland littered with genocide camps and Nazi-style genetic experimentation labs. As the ultimate Social Darwinist, this world exists to weed out the weak and force the strong to earn their right to life by virtue of learning to survive and prosper on what is essentially a Death World.

    Fan Works 
  • Arddun Lleuad: Schaden, of Chwe Goleadau, has a simple dream, with the cute name "World of Pain". All he wants is to devour all life in Equestria and turn it all into formless, but still feeling biomass which would experience nothing but eternal torture. (Then he decides to do it to everything in the entire multiverse.)
  • A Future of Friendship, a History of Hate: When Ruinate's people, the Sentiox, created and populated worlds based on their individual views of paradise, Ruinate chose to create the original version of Equestria as a Mordor-like realm of constant suffering. Now that he's escaped from the void his people imprisoned him in, he intends to return Equestria to that state before destroying it and everything else.
  • The Legend of Spyro: Zonoya's Revenge: Malefor gets this as his ultimate goal after deciding that instead of destroying the world as he originally intended, he will conquer it. We see an Imagine Spot that gives us just a tiny taste of what he intends. That being Spyro's family and friends chained up and suffering horrifically, including the children. Malefor states that all (especially Spyro's friends and family) will be given over to his every whim. Considering this is a guy with a history of Mind Rape (and is implied to have sexually and physically abused Zonoya) and sadism, that is a very terrifying thought.
  • Second American Civil War: The Council of Sanford feels that creating a world where they can own slaves freely is worth terrorist bombings that kill millions and a civil war that kills millions more.
  • your move, instigator (draw your weapon and hold your tongue): Danzo claims that his ultimate goal is to "unite the shinobi world"... by conquering it. To this end, he's exploited the ongoing Third Shinobi War and Hiruzen's Head-in-the-Sand Management to become The Man Behind the Man, flooding Konoha with propaganda "justifying" their attempts to destroy all the other hidden villages. He also lowered the age of deployment for Child Soldiers to force "less valuable" children like Sakura out to fight at the tender age of five, with only clan heirs being spared from being sent out. Later in the story, it's revealed that aside from Team 14, said clan heirs are practically the only children left in Konoha, as the vast majority have been killed in action or Driven to Suicide.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The Night Slasher in the Stallone action flick Cobra wants to create a nihilistic dog-eat-dog world with his homocidal cult where sadistic murderers kill off the weak and people are indiscriminately hacked up and gunned down on the streets on a daily basis.
  • Drug lord Judah Earl of The Crow: City of Angels is convinced that he has visited Hell in the past and liked what he saw. He takes control of Los Angeles and tries to recreate his vision on the entire city, flooding it with dangerous drugs and forcing the people to live in a rundown place filled with vices and in fear of him. He kills one of his dealers for objecting that the amount of addicts who die is hurting their profits, suggesting that he prefers further corruption over money.
  • Fender from Cyborg (1989) lives in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, an Earth that has been so ravaged by plague that civilisation has collapsed and vicious gangs of marauders (like his own) Rape, Pillage, and Burn at their leisure...and in the opening narration, he makes it clear that he likes the way the world is, and is baffled that there are people who want to fix it.
  • The Joker in The Dark Knight, who wishes to create a "world without rules" (or, as Alfred puts it, "watch the world burn"). He believes that, deep down, everyone is just as rotten and evil as he is, and he intends to rip away the "façade" of do-goodiness and create a world where, essentially, everyone acts like a violent criminal.
  • Simon Phoenix from Demolition Man is a Chaotic Evil mass murderer who wants ultimate freedom just so he can destroy, plunder, and rape as much as he wants. This is the primary conflict with his boss Dr. Cocteau, the benevolent dictator of the San Angeles future society, who represents the Utopia Justifies the Means side because he wants to preserve peace by suppressing free will. Phoenix eventually has Cocteau murderednote  and usurps his position to give the people his own ideal society of constant death and chaos.
  • Godzilla vs. Kong: The villainous Apex Cybernetics corporation want to create a world where all the Alpha Kaiju (even, and especially, the good ones) are gone, and where Apex have global corporate hegemony and are considered heroes for murdering Godzilla, even though they secretly caused all of Godzilla's attacks as an Engineered Heroics.
  • Phantasm: The Tall Man seems intent on traveling worlds and reducing the planets to chaotic hellscapes where only he and his minions can survive.
  • In Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (2022), Dr. Eggman manages to be even more unhinged than he was in the source material (which being trapped in Mushroom Hill Zone for almost a year certainly didn't help), and expresses a desire to use the power of the Master Emerald to enslave all life in the universe and "commune with darkness itself".
  • In Star Trek Beyond, Krall wants to destroy the peace and prosperity of the Federation, and commit mass murder, for no better reason than that he is a warrior and a galaxy at peace just isn't the kind of place he wants to live in. Notably, although he was originally shipwrecked on his planet, he has had the means to leave for some time, but did not do so until he was ready to unleash destruction on civilians living peacefully.
  • Star Wars:
    • Emperor Palpatine aka Darth Sidious is basically a living embodiment of the Dark Side. As such, his desire is to rule the galaxy with an iron fist and inflict as much pain as possible for his amusement. He's not even interested in maintaining order, since he deliberately constructs the Empire into a dysfunctional mess of government just to cause chaos and provoke the galactic denizens to rebel so he can then crush them and their hopes. He also seeks powerful Force-sensitive people to corrupt into his Sith apprentice, molding them into his ideal apprentice that would either usurp his rule or be be discarded in favor of a new apprentice since it's the act of corruption that matters to Sidious.
    • According to The Essential Guide to Warfare, Grand Moff Tarkin and Admiral Motti's main motivations in A New Hope were wanting to have the galaxy ruled with fear, feeling that the navy maintaining the galaxy through beliefs such as stability and order has run its course.
  • Team America: World Police: The purpose of Kim Jong Il's "9/11 times 2356" is turn every country in the world into a Third World country, through global terrorist attacks that will create worldwide chaos. note 
  • In Wishmaster, the Dinn's goal is to open the portal to the Djinn dimension so his brethren can enter Earth at will, becoming a virtual god in the process over his new kingdom. Considering that they derive pleasure solely from mutilating and torturing people to death while making their worst nightmares reality, they would turn the Earth into a complete hellworld if they won.
  • The villain of the first xXx wanted to create a world of anarchy through chemical terrorist attacks on 10 major cities to dismantle all nation-states and their political order, out of revenge for himself and his comrades after being forgotten as soldiers after the Chechen War.

  • The Party of Nineteen Eighty-Four. O'Brien tells Winston that the Party seeks power "entirely for its own sake", that "the object of power is power". This sounds like just Despotism Justifies the Means, not Dystopia, until they get onto how one man asserts power over another: "By making him suffer." The Party was founded solely to cause as much suffering as possible to as many people as possible simply because the only way the Inner Party members can be happy is if everyone else is miserable. To that end, they created artificial food shortages and regularly bombed their own citizens to keep up the illusion of a Forever War while brainwashing them to accept it.
  • In Animorphs, According to the Ellimist, The Crayak wants to fill the universe with "conflict, pain, and terror".
  • Torak in The Belgariad wants a world filled with terrified people bowing down in worship of him, and offering him human sacrifices. Zandramas in The Malloreon has similar objectives. And the Dark Prophecy, which rules them both, seeks nothing more than a stagnant universe of constant failure.
    • The King of Hell seeks to destroy both Prophecies, recreating the Universe in his own image, and turning loose the Legions of Hell to feast on all mortal souls.
  • Baron Vladimir Harkonenn from Dune. The Baron believes in deliberately making conditions under his rule as hellish as possible, as he believes the key to power is through fear and thus by making the population terrified of House Harkonnen, they will submit to him. He even has Rabban oppress the Fremen even more brutally simply so that they'll accept Feyd as being a better option when the Baron installs him instead.
  • Azash of The Elenium has similar objectives to Torak, though his notions of human sacrifice and what constitutes worship are even worse.
  • The Marquis de Sade's characters (and possibly him too) frequently expressed the wish to become despots over a rigid social hierarchy in which the strong crushed the weak. The disabled would be killed immediately or used as guinea pigs in medical research, while anyone else unable to resist could simply be murdered or raped with impunity (when not useful for slaves at least).
  • The Fountainhead: Ellsworth Monkton Toohey describes his vision for the future as an empty cycle of slavery and misery built on sacrifice with no one benefiting.
    "Now if you were a little more intelligent, you’d ask: What of us, the rulers? What of me, Ellsworth Monkton Toohey ? And I’d say, Yes, you’re right. I’ll achieve no more than you will. I’ll have no purpose save to keep you contented. To lie, to flatter you, to praise you, to inflate your vanity. To make speeches about the people and the common good. Peter, my poor old friend, I’m the most selfless man you’ve ever known. I have less independence than you, whom I just forced to sell your soul. You’ve used people at least for the sake of what you could get from them for yourself. I want nothing for myself. I use people for the sake of what I can do to them. It’s my only function and satisfaction. I have no private purpose. I want power. I want my world of the future. Let all live for all. Let all sacrifice and none profit. Let all suffer and none enjoy. Let progress stop. Let all stagnate. There’s equality in stagnation. All subjugated to the will of all. Universal slavery — without even the dignity of a master. Slavery to slavery. A great circle — and a total equality. The world of the future."
  • In Halo: Silentium, this turns out to be the goal of the Flood, or more accurately their former identity the Precursors. They were so angered by one of their own created races, the Forerunners, nearly wiping them out that they vow to create a new universe where they will be able to create and destroy as they see fit, and where their creations will suffer too much to even conceive of rebellion.
    "Our urge to create is immutable; we must create. But the beings we create shall never again reach out in strength against us. All that is created will suffer. All will be born in suffering, endless greyness shall be their lot. All creation will tailor to failure and pain, and never again shall the offspring of the eternal Fount rise up against their creators. No more will, no more freedom. Nothing but agonizing death, and never good shall come of it. We are the last of those who gave you breath and shape and form, millions of years ago. We are the last of those your kind defied and ruthlessly destroyed. We are the last Precursors. And now we are legion."
  • The final third of The Mental State is essentially a Battle of Wits between two devious manipulators who have different plans for the running of the prison. While Zack intends to give the inmates more freedom and equality, Saif prefers a dod-eat-dog environment in which the strong prey on the weak and the low-level criminals are easily corrupted into hardcore thugs.
  • The Lord Ruler is Mistborn is an interesting example. He thinks he's operating based on the Godzilla Threshold, but he's got an omnicidal Eldritch Abomination telepathically linked to him, and it's twisting around his thoughts so his decisions become irrationally destructive and his empire becomes a way to further said abomination's goals. Though the Lord Ruler knows he's being messed with by something very hostile, he seems unaware of the extent of the damage and is even baffled why everything turns out even worse than he planned. In the third book, the process gets repeated in miniature with Quellion.
  • This is the goal of the Otherness in the Repairman Jack and The Adversary Cycle books.
  • "Shigalyovism", the philosophy of the terrorist group featured in Demons by Fyodor Dostoevsky, involves the abolition of traditional morality and the establishment of a cruel aristocratic elite who will rule over Russia and turn the rest of the population into slaves.
  • Morgoth in The Silmarillion. While his Dragon and successor Sauron wanted to create and rule a sustainable empire, Morgoth really just wanted to make those under his power suffer out of pure spite for not getting his own way when the world was created.
  • Braglob in The Paths of the Perambulator. As Clothahump explains, when you're completely insane you have two options: make yourself sane, or make everyone and everything else as crazy as you are. Braglob goes the latter route, launching a frontal attack on causality.
  • An Unkindness of Ghosts: The Big Bad is an Egocentrically Religious ruler whose increasingly brutal and arbitrary persecution of the lowdeckers is finally revealed to be motivated by racial hatred against them.
  • Worlds of Shadow: Shadow has no discernible motive beyond "conquer everything and make it a hellhole", judging by what most of Faerie became.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The 4400: The "Marked" come from the Bad Future that the 4400 were empowered to stop. The Marked, however, are the ones in power in that future, so they will do anything to make sure it comes to pass—starting with possessing contemporary humans and using them to assassinate key players. Some of the things they say to each other imply that they find the modern world beautiful and dislike all the ecological and social damage that is to come, but it is all necessary to create their world.
  • Several villains in Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • The Master is the head of a cult that worships ancient greater demons, but in practice his main goal is to create a society where he rules over vampires and vampires dominate humanity. In one Bad Future where Buffy never came to Sunnydale, he has turned the town into a nightmarish place where humans fear to go out at night because vampire attacks are so frequent and he is building machines designed to completely drain someone of blood so that he can turn humanity into vampire cattle.
    • In one two-parter, Spike and Drusilla find and resurrect The Judge, a demon whose purpose is to "separate the righteous from the wicked, and to burn the righteous down", killing anyone — human or demon — who has even a trace of humanity or goodness in them, with the ultimate goal of creating a world populated almost entirely by monsters.
    • The Big Bad of Season 3 is the Mayor of Sunnydale, who turns out to be an Affably Evil immortal wizard who founded the town a century prior and intended it from the outset to be a Crapsaccharine World that resembled a normal and prosperous human town that was secretly built on a Hellmouth that attracted vampires and demons, as he wanted it to be a place where they had humans to feed on. The arrival of The Slayer (Buffy) tipped the balance of power towards humanity, so he plots to transform himself into an Eldritch Abomination in response so he can enforce his dystopia with an iron fist.
    • The First Evil is literally evil incarnate and gets stronger the more evil there is in the world, as well as being a Manipulative Bastard and Sadist that simply derives pleasure from spreading misery and death. In Season 7, it plans to unleash an army of ancient, primordial vampires onto Sunnydale and then the whole world as well as kill every Slayer so that nobody will be left to fight for good.
  • The Skeksis from The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance. While they were able to maintain power behind the facade of stern but benevolent rulers, this comes to to be the true nature of their rule: to reduce the Gelfling population to cattle and destroying all life.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Daleks are an extremely paranoid mutant cyborg race that were socially and genetically engineered to feel nothing but hatred and fear for all other races. Their ultimate goal is to rule the entire multiverse as a Master Race with every other organic form of life either being exterminated outright, or enslaved and then killed later. Every single Dalek is a fanatic and they have historically went to war with each other over minor differences, and several have committed suicide to serve the cause of racial purity.
    • While the Mondasian Cybermen simply seek to preserve the Cyber Race by any means necessary (up to and including kidnapping, slavery and genocide), the "Cybus" Cybermen of a parallel Earth want to assimilate the entire human race and imagine it is for their own good, believing that they are creating a world where nobody will ever die and everything will be orderly and equal in a world without gender, or class, or race, or creed... or any individuality or difference whatsoever (besides the limited-but absolute internal hierarchy of the Cybermen themselves). The fact that they will convert you to the Cyber race whether you like it or not and that actually being a Cyberman is so nightmarish that emotions have to be artificially suppressed else they go insane is merely details.
    • In "Last of the Time Lords", the Master has ruled Earth for a year and turned it an utter hellhole that is effectively closed off to other spacefaring races. Worse, he plans to create a "New Time Lord Empire" with rockets fitted with black hole converters to begin his universal conquest.
    • In the Big Finish audio "Davros", the Daleks' creator, Davros himself, is resurrected (again), taught about capitalism, and tasked with solving an interplanetary famine. His response is to attempt to crash the galactic economy and reduce the scattered worlds to a state of constant war, each devoting its resources solely to desperate survival and military production, with himself as the only greater power.
  • The Prince of Fire in Lexx is this setting's equivalent to Satan watching over a planet that serves as afterlife for the wicked and sinful and pretty much tells that the point of his existence is to make people suffer forever.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Exalted:
    • This is an overall theme of the Yozi. In their nature as Primordials, they impose their principles of being on reality around them. In their heyday, they were more uncaring about the existence of lesser beings rather than actively malicious, but after said lessers managed to successfully rebel, defeat them, mutilate their spiritual nature and imprison them for millennia, well that obviously has changed. In specifics:
    • In the game's Second Edition, Ebon Dragon was written to basically be the ultimate evil, a complete reflection and opposition to the cosmic concepts of Virtues guiding everybody else. The narration in the book describing potential result of him breaking out cites complete annihilation of all shaped existence as potentially preferable alternative. In other editions, he is moreso an embodiment of freedom and breaking of restraints, resulting in a world of chaotic anarchy if he's allowed to run wild, rather than despotic and purposeful misery his 2.0's version would provide.
    • Malfeas, the former ruler of Primordials, still has concept of Rulership at his core, but now he is intending to be a lot more secure. His rage and hatred are aimed both inwards at himself and outwards at everybody else, resulting in an environment of unstable landscapes of jagged brass washed over by acidic rains, and this is what Creation has to look forward to if he reasserts himself upon it.
    • Cecelyne's nature means that any goal she pursues has to be this by definition. She is the Lawgiver, but any law she brings is inherently arbitrary and inconsistent and privileges the strong above the weak. She is made of injustice almost as much as she is made of silver sand, and she wants to become a part of Creation once more.
    • She Who Lives In Her Name quite simply considers the concept of free will a horrible mistake her brethren committed when creating the world, and would dearly want to fix that now that they all have seen the results.
  • Greyhawk: The whole goal of the Empire Of Iuz is pretty much just to spread as much evil and suffering as possible. The Living Greyhawk Gazeteer even notes that the Empire's "chief export is misery".
  • In Scarred Lands, many followers of the Lawful Evil God Chardun are fighting to create a global Police State where everyone are under the feet of the hierarchy. Then again, they'd be free to be... ambitious, and thus advance in the hierarchy. As an added bonus, they will all go to hell when they die, starting out at the bottom of its food chain.
  • Warhammer 40,000, Warhammer Fantasy, and Warhammer: Age of Sigmar: This is the endgoal of the Chaos Gods. Nurgle wants to create a 'happy' paradise where literally all life in existence (viruses included) is equally, mindlessly, pointlessly content with being hugged by every other disease. Khorne wants the already-existing endless war to become total, so that all planets in existence are constantly fighting everyone else. Slaanesh wants the world/galaxy to become a giant, disgusting orgy of pain and pleasure (everything the Dark Eldar do to their slaves is done to everyone ever). And Tzeentch wants this endless cycle of violence, abuse, intrigue, and betrayal that the galaxy is currently stuck in to continue forever.
    • Warhammer Fantasy only: Archaon, the Antichrist of this world, wants to turn the world into a paradise of Chaos. Considering what Chaos is like as described above, such a "paradise" would not be nice.
    • Warhammer: Age of Sigmar: Nagash wants to reshape the Mortal Realms in such a way that all life is replaced with undeath, and all undead are eteranally shackled to his tyrannical will. An eternal, unchanging world of dead stasis, until the universe itself burns out, and possibly past that if he can manage it. "Nagash is all, and all will be one in Nagash."

    Video Games 
  • Handsome Jack in Borderlands 2 is an example of the first type: He claims he wants to turn Pandora into a paradise, but is in fact a sadistic, sociopathic asshole whose gleaming "utopian" city of Opportunity seems like a capitalist version of North Korea.
  • This is the entire belief of Danganronpa's Ultimate Despair, which envisioned and succeeded in creating a Villain World that only knows and forever experiences despair. Hope Springs Eternal in the end, but it doesn't help matters that half the human race has been turned into murderous lunatics.
  • Dragon Quest:
    • Dragon Quest III: Zoma's goal is to turn the world to a place of interminable suffering, as the misery of others is literal sustenance for him.
    • Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker: Dr. Snap wants to make a paradise for monsters, and he is quite willing to wipe out humanity to do this.
  • in Dungeon Keeper this is is your goal. At the beginning of the game you look out across a blissful land ruled by good and just rulers, with no trials or tribulations, bar a few aching facial muscles from smiling too much. It's your goal to turn these joyous lands into terrible lands ruled by fear and anthrax.
  • Dyztopia: Post-Human RPG:
    • Akari doesn't particularly care for the humans that Zazz wants to revive and actually considers them self-destructive beings who will ruin the planet. However, she still supports Zazz's plans because she wants humans to come back and worsen the already Crapsack World.
    • Played with in President Zazz's case. He wants to revive humans and have them prosper at the expense of non-humans. However, he wants to rename Zeta to "Dyztopia," showing that he's perfectly aware that non-humans will suffer even more once his plans are complete. It's implied that he's partially motivated by sadism against non-humans, since he blames them for "stealing" humanity's place in the world.
  • In Fallout: New Vegas, this is what Legate Lanius hopes to make if Caesar dies and the Legion wins the battle for Hoover Dam. He essentially wishes to make a land of constant warfare where the weak will be broken by violence and the strong thrive in constant battle. While Caesar planned to establish order (as unforgiving as it is) Lanius only hopes to put the world to the sword.
    • Caesar himself planned to create a slightly less nightmarish one. While order and discipline would be paramount he'd create a society where rape is condoned, women are reduced to drones or sex slaves, sadism is promoted as a virtue and eugenics. And this is no temporary wartime measure; he maintains these standards even after taking Vegas as his treatment of the Khans shows. Caesar claims that this society is temporary until he can conquer the NCR and create a synthesis of the NCR's thesis and the Legion's antithesis, but he is vague about what sort of society he envisions that synthesis would be, and he certainly doesn't care about taking any measure to ensure this happens if he dies before the Legion can conquer the NCR.
    • Father Elijah is even worse. His plan, if you let him succeed in it, results in the deaths of 90% of the Mojave. The remaining population is permanently bound to his service via Explosive Leash, invincible laser shooting holograms kill anyone who comes near, and a poisonous cloud of gas covers the area, rendering much of it unlivable. Elijah and the Courier stay inside the Sierra Madre Casino, waiting for the world to begin again.
  • Several Final Fantasy villains are like this, but the most notable one is Kefka Palazzo from Final Fantasy VI: He deliberately intended to burn the world to ash by reviving the Warring Triad and then having them unleash their full power, as well as move the statues out of balance, resulting in millions of deaths. What's worse, even after that, he decides to blow up any remaining pockets of civilization with the Light of Judgment, as well as orphaning the children of at least one town (Mobliz), and it is heavily implied that he does these things solely for his amusement. It's not even the first time that he did this: He also infamously committed what amounts to mass genocide against the Domans by poisoning their river supply, even when the Empire was going to win anyways with little casualties, and he has Thamasa burned to the ground after invading it to acquire the Espers the few times he was actually given command over a major operation. To put it in perspective, several villains who intended to commence this sort of goal (eg, The Emperor) actually voiced disgust with Kefka's actions at least once in the Dissidia subseries.
  • In Five Nights at Treasure Island, the sole reason that Discovery Island is a cheerfully gruesome mess haunted by supernatural caricatures of iconic Mickey Mouse mascots is because MOTHER, as their Knight Templar Parent and series Big Bad, made the island that way for them, and she refuses to let anyone get in the way of this scheme of hers, especially any paranormal investigators like Jake.
  • In Legend of Legaia, this is combined with Utopia Justifies the Means as the reason for the Mist's creation. While it's not stated whether they themselves believe that the world is better this way or whether they are being manipulated by Rogue, most of the main villains say on at least one occasion that "The Mist is Salvation", despite it leading the world into ruin.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Ganondorf, a desert bandit and Evil Sorceror who wishes to conquer the magical land of Hyrule, which he coveted because of the harsh environment he grew up in. Which doesn't mean he doesn't intend to turn it into a Mordor, in reflection of his cruel and sadistic personality. If Skyward Sword is any indication, it might be because he is the reincarnation of the vengeful archnemesis of the godess Hylia or because Demise's curse, vestigial spirit/soul/whatever is messing with his mind thus making him incapable of not harming the country founded by Hylia's mortal reincarnation and her champion.
  • Dr. Weil from the Mega Man Zero series. Upon becoming the ruler of Neo Arcadia, he strives upon bringing suffering and despair to its citizens with his iron-fist rule, to take revenge on them because of what they've done to him.note 
  • Several villainous characters in Mortal Kombat have this as their end goal, particularly shown in various alternate endings where they gain different types of godly power. Shao Kahn typically desires a Forever War with himself ruling everything; Quan Chi goes Omnicidal Maniac and rules over dead realms; Noob Saibot plunges the realms into eternal darkness; Scarlet demands blood sacrifices and worship from across the universe; Dark Raiden rules Earthrealm with an iron fist and terrorises or destroys the other realms as enemies; Baraka unleashes man-eating Tarkatan hordes on everyone etc
  • Several villains in the Metal Gear franchise are attempting to bring about a world of perpetual warfare and chaos; in a twist, this is actually portrayed somewhat sympathetically, since while their vision is horrifying their motivation is simply to provide a world where soldiers will always be needed, in a world where such soldiers are usually horribly traumatized and treated as tools by callous governments and more sinister forces. By contrast, the other Big Bad of the series, The Philosophers and the Patriots, believe that Utopia Justifies the Means but are shown to be much colder and more heartless (partly because the Patriots are actually machines) Totalitarian Utilitarians.
    • Volgin, from Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, wants to turn the Soviet Union back into a brutal Stalinist dictatorship and use his new weapon, the nuclear-armed tank the Shagohod, to ignite World War III. He's probably the least sympathetic character in the franchise, one of the few portrayed as an outright sociopathic Sadist and driven by a love of power and inflicting pain.
      • However, despite all this, he still qualifies as a Knight Templar at the very least, since his ultimate goal is to create a unified world. It's just hard to imagine how said world can be peaceful or just in any sense.
    • Hot Coldman, from Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, is a straight example, too. He tries to wear a fig leaf of justification over it, but it's clear that, deep down, he's just a vicious, jealous power-tripper who enjoys crushing hopes and wreaking havoc. Of course, he seemed to truly believe that The Boss's views of peace were outdated, and so sought to arrange her death just to get her out of the way to eliminate her ideals, and when he put his plan with Peace Walker into motion, he does genuinely believe that it would act as the best nuclear deterrence system. This would still qualify him as a Knight Templar, albeit one who is a massive Jerkass.
    • Skull Face from Metal Gear Solid V is even worse. As a Soft-Spoken Sadist who wants revenge on the world for imperialization and all the pain it personally inflicted on him, his ultimate objective is to break up every oppressive empire on the planet and replace them with equal nations. While this sounds noble at first, his core plan involves unleashing a fantasy pandemic designed to destroy global communications, international alliances, and intermingling cultures, and then selling nuclear weapons to terrorists and unstable dictators in the chaos. The end result would be a Villain World where every nation on Earth is driven by military cults maintaining the Walker Gears and mini-nukes upholding their borders. Nobody would ever have hope of collaborating with their allies or immigrating to somewhere better; every nation would be ruled by the worst of humanity and every attempt to work with foreigners on humanitarian issues would result in a nuclear bloodbath.
  • The New Order Last Days Of Europe: The sub-ideology of National Socialism known as the "Burgundian System" is described by one of the developers as the people who want more gas chambers than houses. Created by SS head Heinrich Himmler (who now rules a de facto independent state in northeastern France) and supported by Reinhard Heydrich, the Burgundian System claims that the German Reich grew too soft and tolerant after its victory in World War II. As such, its adherents seek to rebuild society on the principles of enforced spartanism, military discipline in all facets of life, and expansion of the Final Solution to all non-German people, including Western Europeans tolerated by orthodox Nazis. Even taking National Socialism's post-victory expansion and evolution into account, the Burgundian System stands out as its vilest school of thought. Heinrich Himmler himself takes this one step further: his goal is to obliterate the Earth with nuclear fire, leaving the surviving Aryans to rebuild civilization on the ruins of the old world.
  • Darkrai from Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers is a rare case of a pokemon villain managing to pull this off... until Grovyle and the player character travel back in time and stop time to stop time from stopping permanently, without knowing that said villain even exists.
  • In Predator: Concrete Jungle, it's implied that the Borgia family or more specifically, Isabella Borgia, who is the MOTHER AI that runs Neonopolis deliberately allowed the city to descend into a lawless hell-hole overrun by openly warring criminal gangs, in order to attract the Predators to the city and take their technology and their blood.
  • This is the explicit goal of two of the Destructive Beasts in Primal Rage: Vertigo wants to plunge the entire world into inescapable madness, while Diablo hopes to turn Urth into a hellish realm of torment.
  • In Star Wars: The Old Republic, while the Sith Empire is already a dystopian hellhole for the common people, Darth Jadus actively believes in the idea of "the Democratization of Fear", which is his way of saying that the populace should be systematically terrorized to keep them controlled. It's revealed in the Imperial Agent storyline that his ultimate plan is to use WMDs to strike specific Imperial worlds so that they become united via terror and discord. He even gives you the chance to join him and allow his plan to go off perfectly.
    • Darth Malgus, another Sith Lord, is a ruthless Blood Knight who despised the fact that the Empire made peace with the Republic after all the work he put in destroying its capital. In his eyes, war and conflict are what being a Sith is all about, and he conspired to try and take the Empire over and escalate the conflict into a Forever War because that's just the sort of galaxy he preferred to be in. Despite this he still manages to be one of the few Reasonable Authority Figures the Sith have.
    • The Dread Masters make Jadus look like a ditherer. Sith Lords who are united in a Hive Mind and have clearly gone insane centuries ago, they plan on destroying both the Sith Empire and Republic and instilling universal fear and terror across the galaxy. They view pain, terror, and death as the ultimate truths of the galaxy and believe a world where "Mothers will kill daughters as soldiers weep in terror" is the pinnacle of enlightenment.
  • Colonel Vindel Mauser from Super Robot Wars Advance believed that dystopia would prevent humanity from becoming complacent and corrupt, as well as making rapid advances in technology. He's absolutely right, but ultimately the heroes refused his offer by claiming that whatever advances it may give will never make up for the loss of human lives.
  • The Nathrezim of Warcraft thrive on sowing chaos and leading others into corruption. Entire worlds have fallen under their sway and forsaken all concepts of morality. Their efforts are more limited since joining the Legion, as destroying worlds is generally preferred to the slow corruption.
  • Nigel Cass in Watch Dogs: Legion envisions turning London into a brutal Orwellian police state as its own justification and spreading a privatized One Nation Under Copyright across the world.

  • The Order of the Stick: Minister Malack is a Lawful Evil cleric of Nergal. He's an Affably Evil Noble Demon from first appearances, but he reveals his real plan: Once his friends are dead, he will turn the entire Western Continent into a vampire-ruled hellhole and sustainable "kill farm" where a thousand a day are sacrificed to Nergal in a special chamber to collect the blood so that the Vampire elite can be fed. The guy makes some devils look benevolent by comparison.
  • Tower of God: It is implied that part of the Big Bad, King Jahad's motive for enforcing a Crapsack World is out of a deep bitterness and despair over his situation. He was once The Hero of his own story, but didn't get the ending that he wanted and refuses to move on. Fate coerced him into becoming king when he preferred being a Bold Explorer, whatever happened with the 135th Floor meant he could not finish climbing the eponymous Tower and complete his adventure himself, he Did Not Get the Girl and murdered her child with his own hands, only for it to seal his fate as God declares he will be killed by Bam. If King Jahad cannot be happy, then why should anyone else be?

    Western Animation 
  • Erzsebet Bathory's ultimate goal in Castlevania: Nocturne. Unlike the Tragic Villain Dracula from the previous series who was lashing out over the murder of his wife, Erzsebet wants to bring about The Night That Never Ends to allow her vampire cult to feed without limits and terrorize the people of Europe.
  • Grandfather in Codename: Kids Next Door. His intent is nothing less than a Crapsack World where kids, and the second time, anyone who had ever been a kid, toils endlessly to create tapioca pudding for his consumption. The second time, he plans to turn everyone in the world (KND included) into senior citizombies that are his obedient slaves.
  • In first The Fairly Oddparents movie, Timmy's maniacal teacher Mr. Crocker manages to gain his wish of capturing a fairy godparent by eating a magic muffin that grants whoever eats it one rule free wish. Upon doing so, he takes over the world and turns it into a dystopia in every sense of the word: the whole world becomes a wasteland, all the people live in poverty, and he makes people eat shrimp puffs for his amusement.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Discord. He wishes to turn Equestria into a land of mayhem and disharmony, just like it was when he was free to do as he pleased long ago. He's less dangerous and dystopian than the later threats, if only because he's just too chaotic to actually be evil. His only evil acts (messing with the ponies' minds to alter their personalities) are really just to ensure that the Main Six can't use the power of Harmony to seal him up again and ruin his fun.
    • Another villain, King Sombra, makes it perfectly clear that he wants the Crystal Ponies as his slaves and that he's going to torment them. In fact, the nature of the Crystal Heart, an artifact which is powered by the emotions of the Crystal Ponies, suggests that instilling fear and hatred in his subjects will literally make him more powerful.
  • The special The Powerpuff Girls Rule! has everyone in the show racing to find an artifact that will make them the most powerful person in the world. But each of the girls entertain their own plans as to what they would do. Blossom's is a dystopia in which women rule and men are subservient.
  • Samurai Jack: Aku is Made of Evil, so he just can't help himself. He rules all of Earth and beyond with an iron first in the Bad Future, but he has to make life under his regime as horrible as possible by giving any manner of evil free reign. With the occasional Hope Spot for those poor mortal fools, otherwise it's no fun.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM): Dr. Robotnik, hands down. He takes pride in having essentially reduced Mobius to a Polluted Wasteland upon taking over, and his final plan in the series, the Doomsday Project, is also specifically designed to wipe out all remaining organic life on the planet.


Video Example(s):


9/11 x 2,356

Kim Jong Il plans the ultimate terrorist attack that will create a world where every country is as awful as North Korea.

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Main / DystopiaJustifiesTheMeans

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