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Enemy Civil War

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The War of Jokes and Riddles.
"To be united by hatred is a fragile alliance, at best."

One of the interesting things about The Evil Empire and similar Monolithically Evil Organizations is how dull they are. Oh, sure, they partake in decadent luxury while oppressing the weak, but all in all Always Chaotic Evil is pretty darn orderly when you get right down to it. Dissent against the Evil Overlord is squashed easily, but no one really disagrees to begin with. There may be a Defector from Decadence or two who protest a lot, sure, but they're typically isolated exceptions from an otherwise very cohesive faction.

This is usually because an enemy faction is rarely if at all fleshed out, making them appear completely homogeneous, but naturally the more information we get about these guys the more interesting they become. A side effect of this can lead to an Enemy Civil War. Rather than wait for the Big Bad to keel over, one or more factions in the evil empire break off and start fighting the main group for power. Note, nowhere in that sentence was there a Heel–Face Turn. The second group may do such, but it's likelier they'll simply be either slightly less evil than the "loyalists", or at the least more open to an Enemy Mine with the heroes (or, alternately, they'll be complaining that the Evil Overlord isn't evil enough). For extra fun, the factions may take turns trying Enemy Mine. Speaking of the heroes, they'll be overjoyed at getting a breather or ally against their enemies. Interestingly, though an Enemy Civil War does weaken the bad guys overall, it is not Villain Decay and can in fact forestall it, as bad guy on bad guy action gives the good guys a justified reduced difficulty in upcoming fights. Just imagine how powerful the evil army will be next time when there isn't a civil war!

In many games, this is simply a cheap excuse for some Civil Warcraft and Enemy Exchange Program.

Causes for these can be anything: The Starscream staging a coup (usually because he doesn't want to risk taking over in a trial by combat; the Big Bad is more powerful, after all), a faction of Dark Is Not Evil members splitting off, some dogmatic schism, filling the Evil Power Vacuum after the leader is offed, or even a full-on Heel–Face Turn/La Résistance. Expect these rebels to win, or at least survive long enough to allow the heroes to sneak in a goal for the win.

More devious heroes may trigger this themselves, if they Feed the Mole properly. The Big Bad or one of his lieutenants then has to try to Prevent the War, despite it being something heroes usually do.

Villainous counterpart to Divided We Fall.

Subtrope of Civil War and Evil Will Fail. May overlap with Allowed Internal War. Contrast Evil Is One Big, Happy Family, where evil gets along arbitrarily well, or Rebellious Rebel, where the villain's revealing their treachery plans promptly causes a subordinate to revolt against him. Compare Evil Versus Evil, Easily Thwarted Alien Invasion. We ARE Struggling Together is a heroic inversion. See also Asskicking Leads to Leadership. Can result in The Good, the Bad, and the Evil. See Civil Warcraft for the RTS version. Not to be mistaken with Set a Mook to Kill a Mook.

Because this trope specifically talks about evil persons and organizations, don't add real life examples.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Happens in Cowboy Bebop, when Vicious takes over the Red Dragons in a coup d'etat in the finale.
  • In the Namek arc of Dragon Ball Z, the fact that Vegeta had turned against Frieza and was (single-handedly) taking down his Mooks and Dragons one by one was probably the only reason why the Good Guys stayed unnoticed and alive for so long.
    • Dragon Ball Minus reveals there were only several thousand Saiyans on their home planet as they were too warlike to increase their numbers further, explaining why they couldn't overthrow Frieza and conquer the universe themselves.
  • Fairy Tail: Faust orders Code ETD in the Edolas arc, which crystallizes the Exceed forces sent to capture the heroes, then declares war against them all in a bid to steal their magic.
  • Played with in Fang of the Sun Dougram. Technically, the rebels are fighting against the whole of Earth Federation, but in reality they're only fighting the Earth region of Medohl (Europe) and its ally Mardo (South America). Representatives of Cohord (Russia), Mingus (North America) and Rodia (Africa), which are opposed to Medohl, gladly provide the rebels with resources, hiding places and training grounds for their fledgling army, gambling that Medohl's representatives won't risk civil war.
  • Gundam:
    • Happens in Gundam ZZ, where an upstart faction of Neo Zeon attempts a coup against Haman Karn. This pretty much saves the AEUG and the Earth Federation from being annihilated.
    • Something similar happens in Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam, as two of the highest ranking living Titans briefly struggle for control of the organization at the end of the series after Jamitov is killed by Scirocco.
    • Mobile Suit Gundam Wing went a different route. Treize resigns as commander-in-chief OZ in protest at the imminent introduction of unmanned mobile dolls. He is placed under house-arrest in his headquarters in Luxembourg, but OZ's military units who agree with his ideals remain loyal to him, quickly leading to all-out war between OZ and the "Treize Faction" throughout Earth Sphere. Another prominent example is OZ's orchestrated coup d'etat against the United Earth Sphere Alliance military in the early episodes. Most of the Alliance either surrendered due to the confusion and heavy losses (since OZ made up their high-end military industry, their training academies, and their Special Forces branch), and the few who held out were eventually destroyed by OZ forces.
    • Mobile Fighter G Gundam. Master Asia and Wong. They start off as partners in crime, begin to distrust and snipe at each other, and by the end each is openly gunning for the other's death. Wong tries to bargain it into going full circle, but Asia openly admits at that point that he'd planned to double-cross Wong the entire time. And Asia would have disposed of Wong sooner if his Incurable Cough of Death hadn't acted up at the exact moment he got really pissed off at his nominal boss.
  • Gushing over Magical Girls: this is how Tres Magia see Enormeeta fighting Lord's Legion; specifically Magenta thinks they should intervene, but Sulfur thinks it would be best to let the two sides fight it out and then crush the winner when they would be at their weakest point.
  • Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Die Neue These is unique in that Enemy Civil wars are happening on both sides at the same time. The Galactic Empire is riven by conflict between noble royalists and the more populist faction led by Reinhardt after The Emperor dies. Simultaneously, the Free Planets Alliance suffers a Day of the Jackboot when a Military Coup goes up against the civilian government. This leads to a second season in which the respective fleets end up fighting themselves far more often than each other.
  • Baron Ashura and Count Brocken in Mazinger Z. So, so much. And then you have Archduke Gorgon, who did never miss one chance to show he despised and mocked all of them, and had his own agenda. And Viscount Pygman, who was the only Hell's servant argued with Gorgon and rebelled against Dr. Hell and became The Starscream.
    • Great General of Darkness and Marquiss Janus from Great Mazinger were at odds with each other before the death of the former.
    • Neither Blackie nor Gandal from UFO Robo Grendizer cried when Duke Fleed killed Barados off. Gandal himself/herself is an -amusing- example, since he/sher had split-personality and for a short while was in war with himself/herself.
  • My Hero Academia: The League of Villains allies with the Yakuza, who want to return to prominence after Quirks reduced them to little more than a joke over the decades. Eventually it becomes clear that their goals do not align, and they begin working against each other. Several League members who were sent to support the Yakuza secretly help the heroes at a few key moments, bringing about their downfall.
  • It is implied that it is precisely this that maintains the tenuous Balance of Power in the One Piece world. Lack of unity is the only thing that keeps the Yonkou (the four strongest pirates in the One Piece world) from becoming an even greater threat than they are already. This can also apply to a lesser extent to the other half of the Balance: the Marines and the Shichibukai, and even amongst the Shichibukai themselves, as it's stated at one point the mere idea of a group of Shichibukai fighting as a team was unthinkable.
    • The Marines are the faction with the greatest unity, following the rule of "Absolute Justice". However, it's clear that some of the officers don't give a crap about justice and just want the perks that come with their power. Then there are those Marines that don't follow "Absolute Justice" but follow their own personal brand of "Justice" (usually called "Moral Justice" but some characters develop their own, such as Aokiji's "Lazy Justice"), such as Admiral Aokiji and Captain/Commodore/Vice-Admiral Smoker.
    • Subverted come the Wano Arc. The World Government and the Marines boot out the Shichibukai once they become a major liability, and Big Mom and Kaido team up for being former crewmates and having a common enemy in Luffy.
  • In Panzer World Galient, both Royal Guard Commander Hy Shaltat and General Zaba work for Marder, but they don't like each other at all. Hy thinks that Zaba is an idiot and he ignores him completely or hits him if he gets in his way. For his part, Zaba would love an excuse to get Hy executed.
  • Pokémon: The Series occasionally pits the Team Rocket trio against other Team Rocket members, particularly Cassidy and Butch.
    • There's also the first movie, in which Mewtwo rebels against his Team Rocket captors.
  • The Zentradi from Robotech/Super Dimension Fortress Macross. A race of purely Proud Warrior Race Guys, they sent some infiltrators to spy on the humans of the SDF-1. However, allured by the human concepts of civilian life, peace, love and music, the infiltrators returned and began spreading these ideas through the Zentradi. Eventually, two factions emerged and began fighting each other. These rebel Zentradi ended up defecting to the human side against the Zentradi loyalists.
  • The Witches 5 group in the Sailor Moon S anime. They go as far as killing two of their members to take leadership: Mimete tampers with Eudial's car and causes her to have a "fatal accident", and later Mimete dies when Tellu plugs off the Witches Electric Warp machine she's using and shuts her off forever. In fact, major Sailor Moon anime villains get rid of each other or themselves a lot - presumably so that the heroes have less blood on their hands, what with the main villains usually being more human-like than the monsters of the week. In the manga, the heroes kill them.
  • In Slayers, the Five Retainers who lead the Mazoku can't stand one another. Chaos Dragon is openly in rebellion against the others and devotes all his energy to ruining their plans. Hellmaster has lost faith in Dark Lord Shabranigdu's ability to end the world and wants to do it himself. Dynast, on the other hand, wants to immediately resurrect Shabranigdu for another go at it. Greater Beast loathes Hellmaster for always bossing her around, but also thinks that Dynast's plan is too reckless. Deep Sea has her own plan, thank you very much, and isn't happy when other plans get in the way. As a result, the Mazoku spend more time and energy undermining each other than fighting the heroes. Most of Slayers: NEXT is an Evil Plan by Hellmaster to get rid of Chaos Dragon (and may have been a plan by Greater Beast to get rid of both of them). In the final light novel, a full-scale civil war breaks out, with the only ones who seem to have any sort of camaraderie are Greater Beast and Deep Sea (ironic, as Fanon had speculated that they hated each other up until that point.)

    Asian Animation 
  • In Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: Mighty Little Defenders, such a conflict forms within the wolves when the leader General Wolf deems several other wolves to be traitors and asks for their capture. The wolves who he has deemed traitors try to go to the goats for help.

    Comic Books 
  • Acts of Vengeance: What ultimately dooms Loki's attempt at creating a Legion of Doom are the facts that almost everybody's too high on their own egos to take orders from everyone else, and the Red Skull (a Nazi) getting recruited alongside Magneto (a Holocaust survivor) - resulting in the latter burying the former alive.
  • Asterix:
    • Asterix and the Goths does this. Getafix gives all sorts of random people a potion, claiming it will make them stronger. Conveniently, they all have a lust for power, so a huge war begins between all of the factions of the Goths.
    • In Asterix the Legionary, Asterix and Obelix get involved in the Civil War between Caesar and Pompey, which is certainly an enemy civil war from their point of view.
  • Batman: The "War of Jokes and Riddles" arc in Batman (Tom King) revolves around a "war" between the Joker and the Riddler, with various other villains picking sides.
  • Doctor Strange: Dormammu and Umar are twin siblings who rule the Dark Dimension. Whichever one is out of power at the moment is constantly scheming to take the throne back, and any alliances are loaded with ulterior motives. This is very fortunate for the rest of us, since if the two of them ever actually cooperated, they could take over the world with ease.
  • Earth X: Deconstructed, with Mephisto has deliberately created multiple universes full of lesser Devils, precisely so they will fight and plot against one another, creating chaos that spawns disasters while also obfuscating his own plans.
  • The Flash: A story arc titled Rogue War wherein the Flash has to stop three separate factions of villains from killing each other and a bunch of innocent bystanders. Four if you count Zoom as his own faction. Six if you count Gorilla Grodd and Doctor Alchemy as separate factions.
  • G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (Marvel) eventually has a civil war within Cobra, pitting Serpentor against Cobra Commander (Fred VII, who has The Baroness supporting his deception). The Joes side with Serpentor for political reasons (as well as a black box Serpentor's Star Viper had stolen from the Joes). In the end, Serpentor is killed, and Dr. Mindbender (who'd sided with his creation) quickly negotiates a settlement with Fred, leaving the Joes hanging. Destro only shows up to retrieve the Baroness.
    • There's another Cobra Civil War in G.I. Joe (Devil's Due) between Cobra's main forces and the Coil, but this series has since been "disavowed" by Hasbro.
    • G.I. Joe (IDW), which reboots the continuity after the end of the Marvel series, is including its own Cobra Civil War.
    • The animated series did a riff on this idea; see below under Western Animation.
  • Hellblazer: This factors into John's plot to cure his cancer by selling his soul to two lords of Hell. Because his soul was already desired by the First of the Fallen due to John drowning the bastard in holy water, he would likely go to war with the two other lords of the triumvirate, who each had their own claims of competing strength... and if they did that, Heaven would take advantage of the disruption and stomp all over Hell. John then slits his wrists, forcing the triumvirate to bring him back to life for as long as possible to avoid the power struggle. At least, until the First gets sick of waiting, ambushes the other two lords and kills them, and sets out to claim John's soul...
  • In The DCU, the mini-series Reign In Hell features a civil war for the control of Hell fought between the demon princes Neron and Lord Satanus.
  • Sonic the Comic: This happens between Robotnik and his Badniks on one side and Brutus and his Badniks on the other side.
  • Spider-Man:
    • Whenever there are supervillain team-ups, this trope is frequently the reason he beats them. In fact, Spidey will often goad the villains into fighting each other or trick them into accidentally hurting each other, which frequently triggers the former.
    • Given that most Spider-Man stories take place in New York, organized crime is often an element. Villains like the Kingpin, Silvermane, and Hammerhead have been engaged in turf wars, which sometimes involve supervillains like Doctor Octopus or the Green Goblin.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • Tales of the Jedi: A major plot point is the strife within the Great Sith Empire caused by Naga Sadow and Ludo Kressh's battle over ideology; they're actually fighting over what kind of villainy the Empire should practice, with Sadow wanting expansionism and brutal warfare while Kressh wants to consolidate power and resolve internal matters. Ultimately, Sadow wins and puts his ideas into effect, but Kressh is proven to have been right about everything, as Sadow's flawed leadership and attempts at expansion wind up destroying the Empire.
    • Darth Vader: Villain Protagonist Vader finds himself inadvertently tricked into attacking other Imperial loyalists as part of an insurgency Batman Gambit in The Lost Command. And in the Ghost Prison arc, he and other loyalists must protect the Emperor from a Military Coup led by a disgruntled Clone Wars veteran mad that Palpatine didn't fulfill his promise of peace.
    • An early arc in the Empire comics sees Grand Moff Trachta organizing a conspiracy to assassinate Vader and Palpatine so that they can take over the Empire, only for the whole thing to fall apart when they start turning on each other for the sake of who gets to be in charge once they succeed.
    • Star Wars: Legacy: This is a central theme. The Empire has split into two factions: Roan Fel's Empire and Darth Krayt's Empire. Something of a downplayed example, as the Fel Empire isn't really evil anymore, but the Sith very much are.
  • Superman: This tends to happen a lot. In particular, Bizarro (Superman's Evil Knockoff) created his own monstrous version of Superman's Rogues Gallery back home on Bizarro World. Superman often finds himself maintaining the balance of power to keep the two sides from killing each other.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Mirage): Occurs with the New York branch of the Foot after the Shredder's death, with several factions fighting each other for control of the city. Among them are the Foot Elite, a group of Shredder loyalists who indiscriminately kill all the other groups. Later stories, such as Tristan Jones' recent issues of Tales and Volume 3, deal with the war's fallout.
  • The Transformers (Marvel):
    • The Decepticons in this series are almost as prone to fight one another over who's in charge than the Autobots. It starts with Megatron versus Shockwave in issue 6, a fight that Shockwave wins by a wide-margin, and continues on from there.
    • The most protracted civil war occurs in the Marvel UK "Earthforce" storyline, where two Decepticon factions led by Megatron and Shockwave are active on Earth and spend most of their time fighting each other. The Autobots are happy to encourage this: When the two factions hold peace talks, the Autobots quickly get them fighting again by making it look like Shockwave set the whole thing up to assassinate Megatron. It eventually ends with their respective lieutenants, Soundwave and (naturally) Starscream, deposing their leaders and uniting the factions themselves.
  • Ultimate Spider-Man: Mr. Big defied Kingpin and tried to rally the other criminals against him. It did not work as he expected. Ox and Montana, his lackeys, even held him while Kingpin killed him.

    Fan Works 
  • Along Came a Spider: Much like canon, this bites the Clans hard, as a blunder in the Grand Council by the Ghost Bears allows the Homeworld Clans free reign to request trials against the Invading Clans, stirring the pot even more than in canon. This is discussed by the Khans of the Wolves and Goliath Scorpions, the former giving the latter the majority of their homeworld resources in thanks for past service as well as an apology for drawing them into recent trials that savaged the Scorpion forces involved. The Scorpion Khan realizes that the Wolves are not interested in the race to Terra but rather, conquering their own territory and building an empire within the Inner Sphere, and when realizing the other Clans might attack the Wolves once they realize what they're up to, comes to the same conclusion that the Wolf Khan implied, "Let someone else go first."
  • Cenotaph features this as a facet of Taylor's modus operadi. Due to being a solo operator, lacking tricks that can end a fight decisively (or, at least non-lethaly), and possessing a power best suited to spying and observation. She also takes the time to get to know her targets, and managed to pick up at least one unlikely ally this way: Purity.
  • A Darker Path: Three hours after Atropos' ultimatum, the city of Eagleton descends into a four-way total war, as machines who believe they can still beat humanity clash with machines who have seen Atropos' track record and view surrender as the only survivable option, plus the ones who want something in the middle. When Atropos arrives at the end of her window, she kills off the holdouts and rescues the ones willing to be reprogrammed.
  • Darth Vader: Hero of Naboo: Played With. While outright infighting hasn't started yet, aside from a couple of failed desertions and mutinies, there are schisms within the time-displaced Death Squadron — while the Stormtroopers are completely loyal to Vader and the technical staff are willing to go with the flow, many officers are angry about him killing Palpatine and preventing the rise of the Empire as they knew it, and are silently plotting against him for it. Vader is aware of all this, but not overly concerned, convinced that he can handle the whole situation.
  • Deku? I think he's some pro...: Izuku revealing his discovery about Shigaraki's genetic Quirklessness (and, by extent, where his Quirk came from), and how he had been groomed to become a Villain, convinces the League of Villains to turn on and attempt to kill All For One.
  • Earth's Alien History: Following the Reaper War, the Space Pirates end up divided between those loyal to Mother Brain and those corrupted by Dark Samus, with the two factions quickly coming to blows.
  • The Fall of the Fire Empire: Turns out that invoking this trope is part of Azula's master plan — she sends identical messages to every high ranking officer in her military, telling them that after she dies they, and they alone, are to rule as regent until her — nonexistent — heir comes forward. She knows that this will lead to a civil war that will tear the empire apart, allowing her to effectively pull Taking You with Me on the entire planet.
  • Guardians, Wizards, and Kung-Fu Fighters:
    • A brief one breaks out when Daolon Wong finally makes his move against Phobos. To keep Phobos isolated while he deals with him, Wong has his allies the Tracker and Roberta lead the army of brainwashed Lurdens and Shapeshifters he's been building in secret against the Guards and Lurdens still under Phobos' command.
    • An offscreen one happens amongst the ranks of the Dark Hand's North American branch after Valmont's arrest left an Evil Power Vacuum, leaving every officer fighting for control. By the time the story starts, Asian branch leader Chang has stepped in to fill the void as interim leader, bringing the fighting to an end.
    • In Chapter 32, a newly Heart-empowered Phobos decides he doesn't need the Guards anymore, so transforms the Whisperers into humanoid Mooks and has them attack Lothar's men.
  • The Immortal Game has one of these in the Back Story. During Titan and Terra's original reign over Equestria thousands of years ago, she eventually got tired of sharing power with him and attempted a coup, leading forces loyal to her (including Luna) against those loyal to Titan (including Celestia). Eventually, Celestia and Luna got tired of the pointless death and destruction and engineered a Final Battle for the war, wherein they stabbed both of their weakened parents in the back and sealed them away.
  • Iron Against Steel is a Star Wars AU that diverges from canon immediately following The Last Jedi. In the aftermath of the Battle of Crait and Kylo Ren claiming the position of Supreme Leader, General Hux refuses to let his rival take command, and quickly conspires with other officers to assassinate Ren. When this appears successful, he swiftly takes over the First Order, consolidates their rule of much of the galaxy, and declares himself Emperor... only for the still alive Ren to reveal himself during Hux's inaugural New Era Speech. It isn't long before the newly-declared Second Galactic Empire is divided by fighting between their respective loyalists and allies, in what's referred to as the Succession War.
  • J-WITCH Series: One briefly breaks out among the Knights of Vengeance in "Return" when first the Ice Crew and then Hak Foo plot to steal Elyon's power for themselves, triggering a fight with Phobos and his loyalists. However, once the heroes show up, the villains stop fighting each other to focus on them.
  • A Man of Iron: During the climax of the Braavos storyline in A Shield of Man, the Mandarin's Ten Ring cultists and the Sentinels they created to aid them are attacking the city. To try and deal with their greater numbers, Arya takes advantage of the fact that the Mandarin himself is busy fighting Magneto and Tony and tricks some of the cultists into attacking some of the Sentinels; with the Mandarin's focus elsewhere and unable to keep remotely controlling them, the Sentinels lash out at the cultists, triggering an all-out brawl between both groups.
  • Mega Man: Defender of the Human Race: Wily's Robot Masters have a habit of competing with each other, and they sometimes jeopardize changes at victory because of it. This becomes even more pronounced when Bass and Splash Woman are created.
  • The New Adventures of Invader Zim: One of these starts brewing in the Irken Empire in Season 2, as a masked figure called Miz starts preaching an uprising against the corruption of the height-based hierarchy, in order to bring true equality to the Irken race. "Miz" is actually a vengeful Zim, seeking to stage a coup against the Tallest. Despite the Tallest laughing off the situation, it's shown that many Irkens are inspired by Miz's message, and they're organizing to prepare a full rebellion.
  • Old Man Henderson: Henderson infamously triggered an Enemy Civil War between the cults of Hastur and Cthulhu by stealing a yacht from a high-ranking Hastur cultist and air-dropping it on top of the penthouse apartment of a high-ranking Cthulhu cultist, who assumed the yacht's owner was responsible. Both cults immediately abandon the Masquerade and start slinging spells and summoned eldritch monsters at each other in the streets in broad daylight, freaking out the police and military who have no idea what to do about it.
  • Out of the Corner of the Eye: Shendu and Drago's fight from the Grand Finale of Jackie Chan Adventures has since evolved to this, with the other Demon Sorcerers picking sides between them (Tso Lan, Tchang Zu, Bai Tza, and Xiao Fung ally with Shendu, while Dai Gua, Po Kong, and Hsi Wu side with Drago). This comes to a screeching halt when Hastur appears.
  • Purple Days: Renly's massive army disintegrates into infighting after Joffrey's lightning strikes destroy most of the chivalry serving as the commanders, critical supplies and most of the army's morale.
  • Queen of All Oni: At the climax, Jade and Tarakudo finally meet and come to blows over control of the Shadowkhan, with their respective Generals also fighting each other.
  • Sporadic Phantoms: Kyle believes there's one going on in The Sharing between the rich donors and Elizabeth's Be You Now course. As usual, he's Right for the Wrong Reasons: Chapman and Visser Three want to get rid of her and her followers, while Elizabeth claims to be working under direct orders from The Council of Thirteen.
  • Star Wars vs Warhammer 40K: After the Imperium of Man nukes the CIS capital world of Raxus Secundus from orbit (killing both the Separatist Council and Senate), the Separatists split into two warring factions. One faction is led by Dooku and is essentially The Remnant of the official CIS government. The other is a Renegade Splinter Faction formed by General Grievous. Initially, Grievous was on Dooku's side until he discovered that Dooku had tried to erase his memories of his deceased wife to brainwash him into being an easier-to-control attack dog. After some Percussive Therapy, Grievous decides he's sick of letting the Sith manipulate his life and cuts off all communications with Dooku to start his own CIS faction.
  • Thousand Shinji:
    • During the invasion of the Geofront, Shinji telepatically goads the invading soldiers to shoot each other.
      "This went beyond a simple cluster fuck, this transcended into the realm where future generations of soldiers would refer to a situation this badly screwed up that they would have to call such scenarios... Tokyo-3..."
    • Also, the only reason why the canon!40k gods had to work together was because their inter-factional fighting allowed the C'tan to gain a vital advantage.

    Film — Animated 
  • One erupts very abruptly at the end of April and the Extraordinary World. When Rodrigue betrays Chimène and kills her, he demands that the children follow him. Half of them do, but the other half side with their fallen mother and the two sides immediately start fighting each other. April and company are able to escape in the confusion.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In the 2010 film Predators, we learn that there is a blood feud going on between the "original" race of Predators and a new, more frightening, breed of Predator. The survivor's fight with the latter leads to an Enemy Mine truce with the former.
  • Star Wars
    • Further to the Expanded Universe examples in Literature, there is Vader and Palpatine, each seeking to use Luke against the other.
    • This in turn continues the Sith Rule of Two, which encourages the Master and Apprentice to scheme against each other while (theoretically) keeping things from getting TOO out of hand by limiting the Sith to two members.
    • The Star Wars films have a particularly odd version of this trope, when you remember that both the Republic and the Separatists were under Palpatine's control, especially after Order 66, at which point the Clones were officially bad guys.
  • Played for laughs in Monty Python's Life of Brian, where there are at least five independent rival resistance groups: the Popular Front of Judea; the People's Front of Judea; the Judean People's Front; the Judean Popular People's Front; and the Campaign for a Free Galilee. Naturally they are all too busy fighting amongst themselves to get anything done.
    • Despite it being a clear parody of the state of the British Left in the 70's, it's also very much Truth in Television. This was referenced in the miniseries Masada where the Jewish leader, Elazar ben Ya'ir, tells the Roman commander that the secret to defeating the Jews is to leave them alone. They'd end up killing each other without a common enemy to fight against.
  • In The Wolfhound, this is the only thing that has kept the Religion of Evil priests, Zhadoba and Man-Eater, from succeeding in resurrecting their dark goddess. When the hero kills Man-Eater in revenge for the destruction of his hometown, Zhadoba is free to declare himself sole High Priest and get on with awakening his goddess.
  • Part of Rogue's plan in War (2007) is to get a Triad leader Li Chang's right hand man to turn on him.
  • The Matrix trilogy has a whole underworld of rogue programs, who are obsolete programs that chose to go into hiding in the Matrix rather than face deletion. One such program, the Merovingian, is something like the program version of a crimelord and holds a great deal of power and influence in the Matrix. And then of course there's Agent Smith, who became an Omnicidal Maniac and attempted to destroy everything, man or Machine. He runs into an Agent at one point, and casually assimilates him. There isn't much Machines vs. rogues action seen on-screen, though there are a few glimpses here and there, most notably during the freeway chase in the second film. Morpheus and one of The Twins are at one point grappling each other to a stalemate when an Agent suddenly leaps onto the hood of the car and tears the roof off; they promptly drop everything and start shooting at him. It's kind funny to note this is a chase scene where the original pursuers end up getting blown up halfway through, and the rest of the scene involves a party that's chasing them for entirely separate reasons.
  • In War for the Planet of the Apes, the humans are fighting each other because of Colonel McCullough’s orders to kill anyone with the mutated virus, which originally wiped out most of humanity but now turns humans into mutes and (possibly) triggers a minor de-evolution.
  • Happens towards the end of The Rock, when Frye and Darrow mount a mutiny against Hummel after he reveals the whole plan was just a bluff and never intended to use the VX against a civilian population. Only Baxter sides with Hummel and both of them are killed in an ensuing stand-off.

  • The Dark Lords, the Big Bads of the Lone Wolf gamebooks by Joe Dever, are twice engaged in civil war after Lone Wolf kills the one in charge, giving him time to rebuild the Kai Order after they destroyed it. In the wake of the Darklords' defeat after Book 12, the remnants of their armies fight amongst themselves to control what's left of the Darklands. Book 14 has Lone Wolf infiltrating a city fortress caught between two warring Darkland factions.

  • Siege Perilous in Constance Verity Saves the World' was founded as a Nebulous Evil Organisation with aspirations of world domination, so when their new leader, Larry Peril, tries steering it in a more egalitarian direction, this naturally led to a lot of internal strife among the organization. Just as Larry was about to explain the situation to Connie, the Assassinations Division had already begun their assault to kill him.
  • Two books in Dennis Lehane's Kenzie and Gennaro Series have this. A Drink Before the War features the warring gang leaders Roland Angeline and Marion Socia, both of whom try to kill Patrick Kenzie to get the MacGuffin. Sacred featured the Corrupt Corporate Executive Trevor Stone and his daughter Desiree, who both try to manipulate Kenzie into killing the other.
  • Happens twice in the Honor Harrington series: the war between Manticore and Haven breaks out when the old People's Republic of Haven is an old corrupt oligarchy, continues when the oligarchs are overthrown by a populist revolution that becomes a dictatorship in the form of the new People's Republic of Haven, and still grinds on after a military coup which results in a restored democratic Republic of Haven.
    • This is also somewhat of an exception as The (People's) Republic of Haven is quite fleshed out, at least leading up to the second coup. Later books actually feature Havenite protagonists among the confusingly large ensemble cast.
      • See also the Levelers' Coup in A Whif of Grapeshot (where Citizen Admiral McQueen got her nickname of "Admiral Clusterbomb"), and of course the failed McQueen Coup. She didn't save Rob Pierre's government because she liked him, but only because the Levelers hated her as much as they did him.
      • One gets the impression that Havenite politics are a little rough and tumble by any standard.
  • Dark mages in the Alex Verus series seem to do this full-time. The books point out that it's a double-edged sword: the constant fighting means that the average Dark mage has a hell of a lot more combat experience than a Light counterpart, but they have a much harder time getting things done compared to Light mages since they don't actually work together.
  • The Riftwar Cycle has the moredhel, who are too busy with inter-clan wars to present a wide-scale danger to humans. In fact, the two occasions when the moredhel united completely under a single banner were quite memorable.
  • Plenty of examples in the Star Wars series:
    • In the Star Wars: Darth Bane trilogy by Drew Karpyshyn, the main character, Darth Bane, recognizes this as both the Sith's main strength and greatest weakness. While the in-fighting culled the weak from the Sith Order, it also allowed many weaker Sith to band together and defeat a more powerful Sith Master, with each Sith taking a portion of the Master's knowledge, weakening the order as a whole. Darth Bane solved this by creating the Rule of Two: one master to embody the power, the apprentice to crave it. That way the in-fighting would result in only the stronger Sith coming out ahead, leading to the advancement of the Sith as a whole. It was reasonably successful in the end, as it took over 1000 years, but the Sith (under Darth Sidious) were able to defeat the long-standing incarnation of the Jedi Order.
      • That being said, very few Sith lords seem to actually follow the rule of two. Secret apprentices, apprentices with their own apprentices, and at one point a full order of Sith all existed after the rule, since, unsurprisingly, most Sith lords aren't big on following rules.
      • Although, Bane’s original vision also exists to establish a way for the methodology to right itself in times of deviancy, given that the Rule of Two exists to protect the Sith from the inevitable infighting damning the whole organization. With anyone that exists outside the framework of one apprentice to one master, they are working towards whittling down the organization back to the core two, and it will resume once the deviant elements are culled through the natural order of Sith tradition (in short, once enough errant Sith figures are killed by one another, the last two will settle into the proper relationship to push the Sith as a whole forward). The only real issue is if one of them goes off the rails entirely and abandons The Dark Side.
    • The Imperial Remnant in the Star Wars Expanded Universe fights among themselves almost at least as often as they do with the New Republic.
    • Grand Admiral Zaarin's and Grand Moff Trachta's actually attempted to usurp power from Palpatine during his reign. Neither succeeded.
    • This actually led to the crowning moment that turned Pellaeon from Thrawn's apprentice into his own Magnificent Bastard. He and Daala manage to get about 10 of the more powerful imperial warlords together and give them 1 hour to work out an alliance. When that (predictably) fails, they kill off all of the other warlords and instantly become the most powerful leaders of the Remnant.
      • Except competent Pallaeon, though appreciative of it, had nothing to do with the plan—it was entirely Daala's idea, to the point where he was shocked when it happened. Quite startling given her general role as a whipping girl for Star Wars literature.
    • This is, in fact, the main reason the Empire falls in the first place. As several characters have observed, even after the defeat at Endor, the Empire still had more than enough raw power to maintain control of the galaxy. The problem is that without the Emperor and Darth Vader to hold it together, this trope comes into play with a vengeance. On the one hand, you have a number of senior officers and politicians breaking off from the Empire and becoming independent warlords, which are as big a headache for the Empire proper as the Rebels. On the other hand, the remaining Imperial government is paralyzed by a power struggle between Sate Pestage (the Emperor's successor), a "cabal" of his rivals looking to overthrow him, and State Sec boss Ysanne Isard who plays the two factions against each other to ultimately take power for herself. Not only are those factions more interested in fighting each other than the Rebels, they're even willing to hand victories to the Rebels if they think that doing so will weaken their rivals. By the time Daala and Pellaeon manage to reunify the various Imperial factions under their control, what's left of the Empire is already a rump state living in the shadow of the New Republic.
    • Nom Anor and his constant machinations against the Yuuzhan Vong leadership. His revolution continued even after he abandoned it.
    • Admiral Niathal's betrayal of Jacen Solo... er... Darth Caedus. Niathal is a real vicious piece of work, and in the end, the best thing that could be said about her is that she has marginally higher moral scruples than an insane Sith Lord.
  • In J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, all evil is ultimately under Sauron's control, but rivalry between Orc forces is still very common, as their race is literally Always Chaotic Evil. In The Two Towers, the constant squabbling between the Orcs from Isengard, Mordor, and the Misty Mountains eventually leads to their captives Merry and Pippin escaping, while in Return of the King, the Mordor Orcs of Minas Morgul and the Tower of Cirith Ungol decimate each other fighting over Frodo's treasure, allowing Sam to rescue him. Later, a "tracker" Orc and a regular Orc are looking for them, but keep threatening and insulting each other, cumilating in the tracker Orc killing the other and running away. Sam observing the whole thing, muses that if this would spread across all of Mordor, it would solve their problem for them. It's also pretty clear that if Saruman had gotten his hands on the Ring, he'd have turned against Sauron in an instant, but thankfully that never came to pass.
    • The trope is discussed and somewhat deconstructed when one of the characters wishes that Sauron and Saruman weren't situated so far apart so they could spend all their energy fighting each other instead of the rest of Middle Earth. Gandalf points out that that would only mean whoever won would be stronger than ever and free of any distractions.
    • In the book Saruman effectively betrayed Sauron as soon as he made it clear that he too was hunting for the Ring. Gandalf even comments how his task is easier at one point, because Sauron's eye is fixed on Isengard, instead of his activities. In the movie this double treachery doesn't seem to come to pass.
      • In the book, the eponymous Two Towers were Saruman's Orthanc in the first part, and Minas Morgul, in the second part. But because Minas Morgul isn't shown until the third movie, Peter Jackson had to justify the title by making Sauron's Barad-dûr the second tower. This meant he had to emphasize "the alliance of the Two Towers" and forget about Saruman's treachery.
    • In fact this is subverted with Mordor’s orcs: While Uglúk and Grishnak really were from different factions, the Mordor orcs work under the Nazgûl and some of them guard the path to Shelob’s lair and when the pressure from their superiors is enough, they fight themselves. Even so, Gorbag lampshades to Shagrat that they need to be together against the Free People:
    But don't forget: the enemies don't love us any more than they love Him, and if they get topsides on Him, we're done too.
  • Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammett is this trope personified. A detective in an Outlaw Town decides to clean it up by stirring all the big criminals in town and their respective gangs into killing each other off. Considering they're very ill at ease with each other at any given time, this isn't very hard.
  • Dragonlance: The armies of the Dragon Highlords instantly dissolve into civil war when Ariakas is assassinated (at the instigation of one of the other Highlords).
  • Warhammer 40,000: A fairly common occurrence in the novels:
    • Blood Angels: In James Swallow's novel Deus Sanguinius, the Warmaster and Inquisitor Stele dispute over their plans. Right up to the Warmaster, to rebuke Stele, tells his forces that Stele's ship is expendable.
    • Ciaphas Cain:
      • The Traitor's Hand: At one point, Ciaphas is trying to stop a group of cultists from completing a Chaos ritual, when suddenly, Chaos Space Marines of a rival faction show up. These evil marines start killing the cultists, which Cain uses to plow a path to the main cultist headquarters.
      • Death or Glory: At the end, Cain manages to trigger one of these among the Orks invading Perlia (which, granted, is about as easy as getting out of bed in the morning) by personally killing the Warboss. As soon as the assembled Nobz get the chance to fight each other, they take it, and the Waagh falls apart.
      • The Greater Good: It turns out that the Tyranids attacking the planet are from a different hive than the ones that the Mechanicus has on ice. The two groups tear into each other every chance they get in preference to attacking the Imperial forces (that are attacking them at the time).
    • Grey Knights: In Hammer of Daemons, the captive Alaric deduces that the lords of Drakaasi are barely tolerating each other, and instigates conflict between them as part of his escape plan.
    • Ultramarines: In Dead Sky Black Sun, there is fighting between two factions of a single Chaos Marine legion where Uriel arrives, and both sides are quite willing to use him against each other rather than stand united against him. Also, two major daemons of Khorne, apparently out of jealousy.
    • Watchers of the Throne: In the second book, the two enemy factions — the cultists and the high-ranking nobles who hid them from the law — come into conflict when it becomes apparent that Imperium Eterna essentially wishes to use the Splintered cults to become a Villain with Good Publicity.
    • "Words of Blood", by Ben Counter: Athellenas repeatedly attacks Chaos forces and retreats, despite his subordinates' hatred of the dishonor. By thus stoking their bloodlust and not letting them vent it on his Space Marines, he provokes them into fighting each other. When they go to clean up the survivors, the subordinates who preferred a Last Stand are fittingly humbled, and Athellanas explains the importance of victory — and realizes how important it was when he learns no one else could have helped the planet these forces intended to massacre.
  • Chanur Novels: The society of the Chaotic Neutral Kif is essentially a perpetual (but mostly cold) civil war. Everyone conspires against everyone. As soon as a leader overreaches, or shows signs of weakness, their alliance will quickly be taken over by a high level subordinate, or simply disintegrate.
  • Happens to Germany in the Alternate History novels Fox on the Rhine and Fox at the Front after the 20 July plot succeeds, Heinrich Himmler takes over, makes peace with the Soviet Union and sets Erwin Rommel on the Western Allies. After Rommel is captured by Patton the German Republic is formed and Rommel goes to war with Himmler.
  • In The Guardians, Lucifer holds the throne in Hell, but Beliel gained enough followers to fight him for it by promising to return them all to Divine Grace. Their war has been ongoing for millennia.
  • A recurring theme in Animorphs is that the Yeerk ranks often contain in-fighting, most notably between regular Big Bad Visser Three and the more calculating Visser One. There's also the Yeerk Peace Movement, which defies typical Yeerk imperialism by seeking a more symbiotic relationship between Yeerks and their hosts (although, as their name suggests, the Peace Movement doesn't do much fighting).
  • The death of Robb Stark in Book 3 A Song of Ice and Fire has left the North in a state of war between the sadistic Euron Greyjoy and the even more sadistic Roose Bolton.
    • To cap this, Bolton has been deliberately put there by Lawful Evil Tywin Lannister in the hope that the two will kill each other. They're also both fighting the more morally ambiguous Stannis Baratheon.
  • David Eddings:
    • One of the advantages the Nations of the West in The Belgariad had is that despite the Angaraks being lumped together in their minds, they were really five different tribes and a bunch of client/servant races which rarely got along. Things really came to a head, though, when the Armies of the West go to distract the Angarak forces from what Garion, Silk and Belgarath are doing, only to find out too late that the Murgos and Malloreans would have just as happily beaten upon each other due to their rabid hatred of one another. And as an example that explains why the Mallorean Emperor was perfectly happy annihilating his fellow Angaraks, Murgo king Taur Urgas had ordered a girl Mallorean emperor Zakath had loved to assassinate him. Zakath had her executed, but did not realize until too late that she refused to perform the assassination. Much of the sequel series, The Malloreon, is composed of a huge Mêlée à Trois between 'Zakath, Zandramas and Urvon for control of the Sardion, with Mengha and Agachak looking to get involved from the outside, and the Demons working for whoever summons them. Ultimately Mengha allies with Urvon (who he and Nahaz start plotting against), 'Zakath Heel Face Turns and Zandramas secures her position as the Big Bad with the deaths of Urvon, Agachak, and Mengha, and the banishment of Nahaz, in one of the most stunning examples of Eviler than Thou in fiction. Whew.
    • There have been three major conflicts between East and West; in the first, the Angaraks hadn't split into different nations yet and were lead by the Grolims, but the war put the generals of the army in charge, and in the aftermath the military and the priesthood had a decades-long power struggle and tried to wipe each other out, until Torak ordered them into two separate cities. During the second, the Murgos and Malloreans, under the leadership of two of Torak's co-Dragons (who truly despised one another), were literally killing each other in their sleep during the march. Evil doesn't get along with itself.
    • Happens again to a lesser degree in The Redemption of Althalus. The protagonists are a tight-knit family who trusts each other, they have an actual Goddess actively working on their side, and their commanders and armies are loyal and efficient. They also have a house that can open doors to literally anywhere and is infinitely large, allowing all sorts of munchkin tactics. The antagonists are (intended to be) counterparts to the protagonists in all ways (including similar roles and powers), but they're openly distrustful and fight among themselves, actively encourage ancient and obsolete tactics and equipment (including flintstone weapons), command their soldiers through fear, their god won't help them very much at all, and their house is a hellish firepit that everyone is afraid of and won't use to its full potential. Is it just me, or did the Eddings have a fondness for stacking the deck?
    • Aside from the infinitely large house, every one of these points also applies to The Tamuli, although several gods are actively supporting the heroes here.
  • One of these is accidentally started in Red Inferno: 1945. A group of saboteurs led by an OSS agent use a stolen NKVD uniform to get close to the targets they are trying to destroy, purely because Soviet soldiers in general will let NKVD officers do whatever they please. But the general commanding the Soviet unit, once he learns of an NKVD officer destroying his supplies, assumes that the high command is trying to set him up for failure, because he is Armenian rather than Russian - an assumption he considers confirmed when one of the saboteurs uses the uniform to get close enough to try to assassinate him. Once recovered from his wounds, the general returns to his some country and starts a civil war against the Soviet Union, something that the saboteurs did not intend to do, but their superiors ultimately approve of.
  • Conan the Barbarian:
  • Prospero's Daughter: In Prospero in Hell, one devil greets another as an old friend —no, as an old adversary since this trope is their normal condition.
  • This happens a few times in the Redwall series. Notable instances are between Emperor Ublaz and Rasconza in Pearls of Lutra (plus Romsca and Lask Frildur in the same book), and between Badrang the Tyrant and Tramun Clogg in Martin the Warrior.
  • In Cetaganda, Miles Vorkosigan works very hard to prevent the enemy Cetagandan Empire from breaking up, because he reasons that multiple Cetagandan warlord-states will be even more dangerous, rather like a tumor metastasizing. Instead of the relatively stable Cold-War type peace between the Barrayaran and Cetagandan Empires, each of the now-independent Cetagandan satrapies will start aggressively trying to expand.
  • Sisterhood Series by Fern Michaels: Despite what some stories would have you believe, the bad guys are not happy working together. Indeed, a number of books in the series show that the bad guys are on the verge of this when the Vigilantes start gunning for them. When the Vigilantes capture them, this tends to break out with one of them spilling all the details, and then the bad guys start criticizing each other and their methods. Deadly Deals had this occur between Baron Bell and Adel Newsom, which Bell started by leaving her stranded. She then broke into his office, and tried to break into his safes, but she only succeeded at breaking into one and stealing the money in it. She tried to cut and run. It didn't matter, because Bell and Newsom got caught anyway!
  • In the Star Trek: Mirror Universe novel Rise Like Lions, the Klingon-Cardassian Alliance begins to crumble in 2377 due to old animosities being stirred by the secretly telepathic Vulcan slaves and open conflict eventually erupts between the Klingons and the Cardassians, though it falls short of an outright civil war. Still, this lack of unity certainly is in the interests of the Terran Rebellion and Memory Omega.
  • Legacy of the Dragokin has many independent villain groups with alliances of convience that break apart when the alliances are no longer convenient. Indeed, the villains are just as likely to off other villains as the heroes.
  • In Doom, the different species of monster turn on each other very quickly, especially when under friendly fire. Fly believes there is a single intelligence that keeps them on the same side and sometimes it loses its grip on the minions. In particular, barons of hell and cacodemons loathe each other, the first proof being a cacodemon nest decorated with crucified barons.
  • In the Left Behind series, even the Global Community is not immune to rebellion among its own ranks, as Enigma Babylon leader Peter Mathews plots against Nicolae Carpathia and the United African States ends up attempting to secede from the one-world government. It all gets straightened out by the battle of Armageddon, and Carpathia's Unity Army still gets seriously owned by Jesus.
  • Gary Seven spends most of the Eugenics Wars playing the supermen against each other. They're inherently distrustful of each other so it works pretty well. They spend more time fighting each other than anything else.
  • The Silent War has the Brotherhood of the Pit. They are the remnants of a nation of sorcerers, with a secret society spread out among regular people. When not summoning demons or sacrificing people in their rituals they scheme to restore the glory days by gaining power, but are severely limited by infighting.
  • The first arc of Wings of Fire centers around the protagonists trying to stop a civil war between the three SandWing queens, all of whom are simultaneously trying to manipulate them or get them killed (well, Blaze isn't, but her ally Queen Glacier certainly is).
  • In The Witchlands, Iseult is pursued by two pirate groups, the Baedyeds and the Red Sails, on the orders of the Big Bad. Near the climax of the second book, both groups grow gradually convinced that the other is going to betray them to take the prize for themselves. They both decide to strike first, and the ensuing battle allows Iseult to escape.
  • Area 51: Two factions from the alien Airlia have been fighting on Earth for millennia, and both use human agents (such as The Guides, The Ones Who Wait or even entire countries when they're revealed) as their minions.
  • Timeline-191: Towards the end of the Second World War, as it's clear that the USA is going to win, the governor of Texas secedes from the Confederate States and cuts a peace deal with the US forces, though it's unclear if their newfound independence will last after the end of the war.

    Live-Action TV 
  • An overarching story thread in Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul is a secret war between Gus Fring, the Salamanca family and the Juarez Cartel. Don Eladio and the other capos are too blinded by the wealth Gus' drug deals bring in to realize he is plotting their untimely demise, while the Salamancas know full well Gus is conspiring against the cartel, but have no proof that would justify killing him to Eladio. It eventually ends with Gus killing off all the cartel heads and Salamanca family members until only the elderly Hector Salamanca is left, who gets his revenge on Gus with a suicide bomb (built by Walter) that kills him and Gus.
  • The end of Season 2 in Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Angelus, Drusilla, and Spike have been working together, and Angelus plans to end the world by activating a demon that will suck the entire world into Hell. Whether because of Spike's jealousy about Angelus' winning Dru's attention or because of Spike's stated reasons of enjoying the world, he decides he doesn't want Angelus to end the world and cuts a deal with Buffy to help her save the world by betraying Angelus. This was long before Spike began his gradual Heel–Face Turn.
  • A few cases in the Battlestar Galactica series:
    • In Season 4 of the reimagined Battlestar Galactica the 'human' Cylons are enmeshed in a Cylon civil war over the identities and whereabouts of their five missing models. When one of the Cylon raiders detects the presence of the missing models in the Colonial Fleet, the six remaining ones (Cavil, Leoben, Simon, Doral, Six and Sharon) are split, with the 'Rebels' (Leobens, Sixes and Sharons) in favor of searching for them and integrating them into their society whilst the other, 'Cavil' faction is opposed and set on enslaving their fellow machines lest they reveal any more. The irony of machines who rebelled against human bondage becoming 'human' and then putting their own machines in chains is not lost on the writers. All the models lose their ability to download. It transpires the missing five were earlier artificial humans who created the seven known models after the First Cylon War. A Colonial-Cylon alliance mounts an attack on Cavil and his followers. Eventually Cavil trades baby Hera to regain Cylon downloading technology and the war ends. Unfortunately a personal matter between two of the final five revealed itself during the handover in such as way that the agreement broke down, leading to the annihilation of the Cavil faction and miraculous survival of the Colonial alliance.
    • The Expanded Universe novels based on the original series (which were published before the new series premiered) also depict the Cylons having a civil war, between the (mostly) organic reptilian Cylons who founded the race, and the purely mechanical Cylons like the Centurions. Baltar, who has done a Heel–Face Turn by this point, is literally tortured by nightmares of this war, due to his brain being cybernetically linked to the Cylon communications network (and unfortunately, said nightmares are the only way he can access the link).
  • Stargate-verse:
    • Happens all the time in Stargate SG-1. The Goa'uld are feudal Always Chaotic Evil megalomaniacs by nature; the usual process is to fight among themselves until a top dog emerges (Ra, Apophis, Sokar, Apophis again, Ba'al, Anubis, Ba'al again...) then SG-1 wrecks the army of the top dog, and the cycle repeats itself. It's stated a few times in the series that the Goa'uld are actually doing more damage to their own forces than the puny Tau'ri; what Earth is really doing is continually upsetting the balance of power. By the end of SG-1, the Goa'uld have completely ceased to be a threat, between the Earth forces and assorted allies repeatedly stopping/destroying them, or the System Lords destroying each other.
    • The Wraith in Stargate Atlantis, who are awakened prematurely before the human numbers in the Pegasus Galaxy have regrown, leaving them with low food supplies. Fortunately, the constant inter-Hive fighting helps keep the Wraith attention away from Atlantis. Then there's Michael, a renegade former Wraith who plots to wipe out all Wraith and humans in favor of his Master Race of hybrids.
  • The 1960s Doctor Who serial The Evil of the Daleks had some Daleks given human emotions, which turned them friendly, and sparked off a civil war which (supposedly) destroyed off every Dalek. During the 1980s era, there was a low-profile Story Arc in which Davros created or altered a new breed of Daleks specifically conditioned to obey him, leading to a war between them and the original Daleks (Davros's side won and he proclaimed himself a new Dalek Emperor). In the 1960s comics "The Dalek Chronicles", conflicts of this kind happened pretty regularly, with upstarts challenging the Dalek Emperor.
    • "Revolution of the Daleks" features a civil war between Robertson's army of human-made Daleks and the real Daleks from Skaro. It's fairly brief, and within five minutes of episode time the original Daleks have won.
  • Farscape has a Gambit Roulette of the protagonists at the end of season 4 try to start one of these, by pitting the two Scarran slave-races against each other. Not even against the Scarrans. And this isn't even the plan, just a component of the plan. Yeah, Crichton was pretty nuts.
  • Some examples from the Star Trek universe:
    • In the final run of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine the Cardassians realize that their alliance with the Dominion has reduced them to cannon fodder. It started out slowly, with just Damar and three Cardassian Orders, and started to build up, but it eventually led to a race-wide Heel–Face Turn, giving the coalition forces a much needed opening for the final assault.
    • Star Trek: Voyager:
      • The Q continuum (not really an enemy but the home universe of a pain in the neck) becomes engaged in a civil war that to humans looks like a reenactment of the U.S. civil war.
      • Later, the Borg also have one. A small subset of drones (like maybe 1 in 10,000) spread out throughout the Collective manage to break free from its control by retreating to a shared Mental World dubbed "Unimatrix Zero-One" during their hibernation periods. The Queen tries to destroy this rebellion as brutally as possible, which eventually results in a full-blown civil war.
    • One Star Trek Expanded Universe novel reveals that the Romulans had one after the events of Star Trek: Nemesis left a power vacuum. Senator Tal'Aura (you know, the one who actually murdered the rest of the Senate) has seized control of the Senate and is cracking down on any opposition, while a military-backed faction is seeking to depose her, headed by Commander Donatra (the one who fought Shinzon alongside Picard) and several high-ranking officers. Surprisingly, Admiral Tomalak is on Tal'Aura's side and successfully fights off Donatra and her fleet. While Tal'Aura wins this round, Donatra isn't done yet.
  • Pops up fairly often in Super Sentai.
    • Happens in J.A.K.Q. Dengekitai after a split occurs in CRIME when Shine tries to replace Boss Iron Claw as his second-in-command with Great King Icarus.
    • Denshi Sentai Denziman sees Demon King Banriki, the Sixth Ranger to the Vader Clan, attempting to take it over in one episode. He briefly succeeds but is soon toppled and turned into a human candle. However, he later returns and takes it over again, only to be blinded and killed off by the Denziman.
    • Towards the end of Taiyou Sentai Sun Vulcan, Queen Hedrian attempts to turn Inazuma Ginga against Fuhrer Hell Saturn in a bid to take power. She briefly succeeds, and would have gotten away with it too, if not for the intervention of the Omnipotent God.
    • In Kagaku Sentai Dynaman, after Prince Megiddo is imprisoned for his failure by Emperor Aton he re-emerges as the mega badass Dark Knight (no, not that one) and plays antihero for a while, before killing Aton and becoming the Big Bad himself.
    • In Choushinsei Flashman, Cowler, leader of the Alien Hunters, turns against the Reconstructive Empire Mess after his men are used for Mess' experiments and seemingly kills their leader, Ra Deus. Ra Deus' right-hand man, Lee Keflen then seizes the opportunity to take power. However, Ra Deus later returns and attempts to reclaim leadership, prompting a struggle between the two in which Keflen turns Ra Deus into a monster and sends him to fight the Flashman. However, Ra Deus quickly reverts back from his monster form and challenges both the Flashman and Keflen, only to get killed off for real by the Flashman, allowing Keflen to claim power once again. (They eventually defeat Keflen and his last monster, constructed from the remains of Ra Deus, but have to flee for their lives, thanks to the Anti-Flash Phenomenon weakening them to the point of death.)
    • Much of Choujuu Sentai Liveman has Bias encouraging his students/underlings to compete against each other in hopes of better results (as opposed to the Liveman's teamwork). This ultimately results in Volt's downfall, though to Bias it doesn't matter, as he still succeeds in his real master plan; the Liveman still manage to put an end to it.
    • The entirety of Choujin Sentai Jetman can be considered one, as the Vyram elites are all competing to become leader, with the agreement that the one to defeat Jetman will be made ruler. Eventually, their actual boss Empress Juuza comes in to take leadership, but she proves such a horrible boss that they all eventually end up turning against her. Later on in the series, a leadership struggle occurs between Radiguet and Tranza, with Radiguet coming out on top after briefly teaming up with the Jetman.
    • Following the death of Bacchus Wrath in Chouriki Sentai Ohranger, Bomber the Great comes in and ousts Bacchus' son Buldont, the one next in line to become ruler of the Baranoia Empire, and takes control of the empire himself. Buldont later comes back after absorbing his father's power and defeats Bomber to become leader.
    • In Gekisou Sentai Carranger, after getting struck by lightning, Ritchihiker develops delusions of grandeur and overthrows Gynamo as the leader of the Bowzock. He ends up dead after the Carrangers use the new VRV Robo to destroy his mecha Braking.
    • GoGo Sentai Boukenger: the negative syndicates were constantly fighting each other as well as the Boukengers over the Precious artifacts to different ends: The Gordom Civilization to use their power to revive the Destruction God Gordom and conquer Earth; The Jaryuu Clan to destroy mankind and revert the planet to the age of the dinosaurs as they believe that, with their dinosaur genes, they are the true heirs of Earth; The Dark Shadows to sell them to the highest bidders and the Ashu Clan to free their brethren sealed inside another dimension. Ultimately, Arch Priest Gajah from the Gordom Civilization managed to outlive the rest of the evildoers and became the final enemy fought by the heroes.
  • As with Super Sentai, this also occurs in Power Rangers:
    • Power Rangers in Space: This intra-evil war was mostly caused by Darkonda, who desperately wanted to overthrow all the other villains; Ecliptor routinely saw through his plans and they fought like cats and dogs for much of the season. To a much lesser extent, Divatox loathes Astronema and wishes she could be the leader, though she never acts on her desires. Then there's Astronema — she performs a Heel–Face Turn after learning about her past, only to be captured and brainwashed to become evil again; she attempts to kill Dark Specter by way of the Psycho Rangers draining his power (though this plan doesn't succeed). It comes to a head in the Grand Finale, where Darkonda hijacks a Velocifighter equipped with planet-busting missiles, and uses some of them on Dark Specter. However, before he can blow up the Dark Fortress (where Astronema and Ecliptor are), Dark Specter pops up and eats Darkonda in this death throes. This leaves only Astronema standing, but her brainwashing keeps her evil; only Andros shattering Zordon's energy tube and causing a World-Healing Wave is enough to turn her back (and stop the forces of evil in the process).
    • Power Rangers Lost Galaxy had several schemes going on, mostly at the bidding of Deviot, who attempted to usurp first Scorpius and then his daughter Trakeena as leader, and to get at the cocoon the former had intended for the latter to use. However, his plans repeatedly went sideways, and after returning from the Lost Galaxy and finding Trakeena had deduced his true nature, he winds up dragging her into the cocoon with him, resulting in Trakeena gaining some of Deviot's attributes... including the loss of the Villainous Valor Villamax had taught her.
    • A recurring theme in Power Rangers Operation Overdrive — there are four different villainous factions after the Corona Aurora and the jewels, and they often fight each other and the Rangers simultaniously. Quite often, they have to work together to make any progress, then immediately betray each other (primarily because each of the factions have different advantages — ie. one has footsoldiers, another has monsters but no method for growing them, etc.). Flurious ends up the Big Bad by default because he spent most of the series letting the other villains eliminate each other or fall to the Rangers.
  • The Sopranos: Season 5 sees one develop with the Lupertazzi family in New York thanks to a Succession Crisis caused by longtime boss Carmine Lupertazzi Sr.'s death from a stroke. The family gets divided into two factions, with one faction supporting Carmine's underboss Johnny Sack, and others supporting his son Little Carmine. Tony Soprano's plan is for the DiMeo crew to stay neutral and allow the Lupertazzis to weaken themselves in the ensuing conflict so they can take advantage afterwards. Unfortunately, his plan is ruined when his cousin Tony Blundetto gets recruited by the Little Carmine faction to assassinate Joey Peeps as retaliation for the whacking of loan shark Lorraine Calluzzo on Johnny's orders, and gets the family mixed up with the New York factions.
  • Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles:
    • In the episode "Allison from Palmdale," Cameron tells Allison that she is working for a "pro-peace" faction within the machine army. This may have been a lie intended to find out where John Connor is, but Allison didn't play along in any case. A later episode suggests that there actually is such a faction, but when John sent a sub to contact them with an offer of alliance against Skynet, they turned him down.
    • This point becomes fleshed out in the finale when it turns out that Catherine Weaver's intention all along was to build an AI to fight against Skynet, possibly paving the way for a peaceful faction of machines to coexist with humans.
  • By the fourth episode of The Cape the eponymous hero has managed to provoke one between Scales and Fleming.
  • Continuum: Following Kagame's death at the end of season one, Liber8 splits into two factions in season two, who fight each other as much as the police.
  • 'Allo 'Allo! is made of this - there are as many enemy factions as, well, enemies. The main group of Germans is in regular conflict with both the Gestapo and several gung-ho generals who feud among themselves. At the same time there is also a hero civil war, with the De Gaul and Communist Resistances hating each other almost as much as they hate the Germans.
  • One episode of Get Smart sees Control and KAOS forced to unite against a third spy organisation which broke off from KAOS.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.:
      • Phil Coulson and his team masterfully cause one among the remaining HYDRA leadership after Whitehall's death midway through Season 2, which cripples large parts of the organization.
      • Season 3 teases another HYDRA civil war occurring as a result of the power struggle between Grant Ward (representing a new Social Darwinist version of the organization) and Gideon Malick (the last surviving leader of the HYDRA old guard). However, Malick eventually strikes a deal with Ward for joint leadership.
    • Daredevil (2015):
      • Matt Murdock's actions against the Russians in the first few episodes ends up destabilizing their relationship with Wilson Fisk, in turn causing a war initially the between the two factions and then between Fisk and the other factions.
      • Frank Castle's initial crusade against the Dogs of Hell and Kitchen Irish in the first part of Season 2 sees a collateral escalation in violence from the gangs, as they start warring against each other thinking the other side hired Frank. The blood gets so bad that they're settling disputes on the emergency room floor and don't care if innocent people get in the way, and Foggy finds himself having to step in to break up such a fight.
    • Luke Cage (2016): The gangsters in Harlem are as much at war against each other as they are at war with Luke Cage. This is even more present in season 2, where Luke's conflict with Mariah is rendered secondary to the main conflict, which is a gang war between Mariah and Bushmaster over a past grudge (Mariah's grandfather and Bushmaster's father were business partners, and the former killed the latter rather than let the Italian mafia drive them out of Harlem).
    • Iron Fist (2017): The Hand is currently experiencing a schism, and the efforts of Matt and Danny have put Madame Gao's faction on the losing side.
  • Arrow: In Season 4, a brief civil war occurs amongst the League of Assassins, between those loyal to the new Ra's al Ghul Malcolm Merlyn, and those loyal to Nyssa, who felt that she was owed the position as the daughter of the previous Ra's. Team Arrow eventually intervenes in order to stop the fighting from spilling over into the streets and costing the lives of innocents; when a truce fails, they instead help Nyssa beat Malcolm and take control, at which point she has the League dissolved.
  • On Supernatural this is the reason the angel-demon conflict is still going. After the Winchester brothers stopped the Apocalypse, the angels should have been able to destroy the demons. An angelic foot soldier can easily take out multiple demons in a fight and the powerful demonic Princes and Knights were either dead or uninterested in the conflict. However, the angels engaged in a massive civil war with one faction wanting to restart the Apocalypse and the other trying to stop it. A few seasons later the angels fought themselves into near-extinction. The demons tried to capitalize on this but they started fighting among each other as well. Crowley made himself King of Hell but had to constantly fight off attacks from demons who wanted to either seize the throne for themselves or to free Lucifer so he can lead them. When Lucifer is finally freed, he has to fight both Crowley and Asmodeus, a Prince of Hell who got tired of sitting on the sidelines and decided to seize power for himself.
  • Chucky: Throughout Season 2, Chucky's violent sociopathic tendencies manifest in his various copies all turning on each other, either for fun or to prioritize their individual survival at the others' expense, which in the process completely undermines Chucky's overall agenda.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Despite Jesus describing Hell as united, it seems common depictions have many, many civil wars going on all the time. Lucifer himself, if present, usually isn't threatened; usually fomenting it on purpose to either consolidate his power or For the Evulz.
    • The Sandman (1989) portrays hell this way. Morpheus' first visit has hell ruled as a tripartite kingdom between Lucifer, Beelzebub, and Azazel. By the second time he visits, Lucifer has wrested complete power for himself again, though it is implied he allows petty demon politics like that to happen to amuse himself.note 
    • C. S. Lewis' classic The Screwtape Letters manages to have it both ways. Hell holds together only because the lower (higher) ranks of the Lowerarchy are usually too powerful for minions to harm them. Bureaucratic backstabbing is a matter of course. After Screwtape's nephew fails to corrupt his assigned soul, Screwtape eats him.
    • All cases of artistic license. The Bible states that Satan and the demons are prisoners of hell, just as much as all the dead sinners. On the other hand, if you're more into the Tanakh, Satan works for God as a prosecutor.
  • Another one, and this one a three-way. 2 Chronicles 20:22-23 describe how the Edomites, the Ammonites and the Moabites were marching for Judah, only for them to "rose up against the men from Mount Seir to destroy and annihilate them" and then went to "helped to destroy one another" right after.
  • In the myth of Jason and the Golden Fleece, Jason had to defeat an army of soldiers that had been created by planting dragon's teeth. He threw a rock at one of them, who assumed he had been struck by one of his comrades, and this started a fight which escalated until they all killed each other.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Angelina Love's triumphant return to TNA following the resolution of her work visa to attack The Beautiful People was supposed to be a Heel–Face Turn for Love, and sort of was received as such by the Audience because The Beautiful People were at their least popular in both a good and bad way at this point. The fact remains that Velvet Sky warmly welcome Love back and got attacked by her for no good reason, meaning this would have been the start of enemy civil war in any genre but pro wrestling. And then Love and Sky united after realizing they had turned Madison Rayne into a monster that needed to be stopped...while still beating up face wrestlers from time to time and still declaring their desire to "Cleanse the world, one ugly person at a time", meaning it was an enemy civil war even by pro wrestling standards.
  • Both "La Corporation" responsible for the operations of The World Wrestling League and "La Rabia" just waiting for an excuse to rebel against them were faces by default, with the more overtly heel elements coming from internal dissent rather than the two groups' feud. In the former case, company owner Richard Negrin tried to replace La Corporation with a Power Stable called The Gentlemen's Club only to find his much more experienced director of wrestling operations Savio Vega, was using a technicality in his contract that prevented Negrin from arbitrarily firing him and using his position to hinder The Gentlemen's Club as he saw fit. With La Rabia, Niche, the only member of the original WWC unit not to win a WWL title belt, felt betrayed by the new group ran by Dennis Rivera and went to Blitz and Mr Big from the IWA PR Los Rabiosos group to take them down. Of course Los Rabiosos also became faces by default.
  • Bullet Club was originally known for its strong ties to the point that even when wrestling matches with one another they remained friendly but these became strained the moment they decided to bring in Kenny Omega, who is something of an egotistical self serving psychopath. More so when Omega and The Young Bucks declared themselves "The Elite" within the group to the point of branding it. It almost got here when they foolishly recruited former enemy Adam Cole, who quickly became The Starscream to the point of trying to oust The Elite, but Marty Scurll managed to keep him from doing too much damage. But the 2018 Honor Rising the many divisions over roles(even the Bucks questioned Omega bringing in Kota Ibushi), money(Fale and Guerrillas of Destiny weren't hostile about it but wanted it), spotlight(the Bucks don't want Hangman Page to have it), title belts(Page wants more) and leadership(Cody's goal) all became too overt for even Scurll to do anything about and Bullet Club openly went against one other. Honor Rising solved nothing and angered the Tongans so much they turned on both Cody and Kenny's splinters until they were shown the respect they deserved.

    Tabletop Games 
  • BattleTech: This is what effectively brings the Clans down as a threat to the Inner Sphere. While they claim to have a united front against the Inner Sphere and call for its invasion and the capture of Terra (so that they can rule the Inner Sphere instead, never you mind that no one save Comstar recognizes this as an Instant-Win Condition), the Clans turn out to be so heavily opposed to each other politically that they spend almost as much time fighting themselves as they do fighting the Inner Sphere. This ultimately comes to a head when the Clans' infighting causes them to lose not only massive amounts of material and countless lives, but also what advantages they held over a severely battered Inner Sphere, post-Fedcom Civil War and Jihad. The Clans divided themselves further, as the Home Clans abjured the Clans the moved into the Inner Sphere. This latter followed when Clan Steel Viper started calling in Trials of Reaving in which they would eliminate Clans they deem as tainted. The other Clans used these Trials to their own agenda in attack other Clans, while fighting off The Society a dissenting faction that plans to over throw the Warrior castes.
    • On that note, depending on which faction the reader may favor, various Successor States have at one time or another suffered a civil war. For instance, the Federated Commonwealth had half of it split off as the Lyran Alliance; eventually both halves went to war with the other over the behavior of Katrina nee Katherine Steiner-Davion. This was a boon to pretty much all the other factions in the Inner Sphere, who had long either warred with or at least viewed with suspicion the Federated Commonwealth or Lyran Alliance. The Capellan Confederation was particularly fortunate in this regard, seeing both the Federated Suns and the Free Worlds League, their neighbors and enemies for the longest times, both dissolve into brutal civil wars in the course of the game's timeline.
    • It's reasonable to consider the entire Word of Blake Jihad as an Enemy Civil War that started between Comstar and their splinter faction Word of Blake. As not a lot of factions in-universe were all that fond of either the secretive Comstar or the fanatical Word of Blake, they probably viewed this as an Enemy Civil War to start, albeit that blew up and out of control to include the entire Inner Sphere when the second Star League was dissolved.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • When not engaged in the Blood War, fighting amongst themselves is one of the most common ways for demons and devils to pass the time. Devils are constantly seeking to usurp each other's position and Asmodeus in a recent edition orchestrated a revolution against himself for the purpose of exposing his enemies and humiliating them, while demons usually forgo the scheming and politicking and go straight into the massive bloodshed. To expand on the revolution in Hell, known as the Reckoning: the ruler of Hell is Asmodeus; his two most powerful archdukes are Baalzebul and Mephistopheles. These two each wanted to rule Hell, so they gathered the remaining six archdevils into two factions that made war on each other, the winner taking on Asmodeus. When they had done enough damage to each other, one of the archdevils, Geryon, revealed he had been The Mole for Asmodeus the whole time and gave the signal for the legions of Hell to turn against their masters. In the end, all the archdevils were sent back to their domains, except Geryon, whom Asmodeus exiled for being blindly loyal to him — turns out being The Starscream is what Asmodeus expects of his vassals, and Geryon was the only one who was found wanting.
    • Forgotten Realms:
      • There are (or used to be) four other gods of drow that opposed Lolth, and a fifth that was technically subservient to her but had factions of his worshippers that were agitating to break away. All of them except Eilistraee were Chaotic Evil.
      • The forces of Zhentil Keep occasionally splintered into various cults of personality—most centered around the wizard Manshoon and the priest Fzoul — that led to frequent infighting. Also, after Manshoon's death, he was resurrected as a number of clones that all had the same memories, leading to a struggle between them known as the Manshoon Wars; this ended with three surviving clones, who managed to find ways to shut off the "Kill all other clones" psychoprogramming and resumed trying to rebuild Manshoon's power base (save for the one that housed Manshoon's real soul, who set about looking for a way to Body Surf between the clones).
  • Magic: The Gathering: In the New Phyrexia set, the five Phyrexian factions' differing ideals may be sufficient to bring them down through infighting. Meanwhile, the Mirrans seem to have adopted a "now we are one" stance (a typically Phyrexian ideal), banding together to survive the corruption of their world. Ultimately, it's not enough. The white-mana faction mostly wipes out the Token Good Teammate red-mana faction and beats the Chronic Backstabbing Disorder-suffering black-mana faction into submission, and the other two factions pull together under the white-mana Praetor's leadership to utterly destroy the Mirran resistance. Only a handful - possibly as few as one — of the Mirrans survive.
  • GURPS Reign of Steel: It is only beginning to happen (it's at the 'Enemy Civil Skirmishes' stage, so to speak), but the approach of this trope is one of the few good things for humanity. The supercomputers may have been united when they toppled humanity as rulers of the Earth and carved it into Zones ruled by a single supercomputer each, but ideological differences have led to increasing tensions between the supercomputers, to the point that some of them are starting to consider whether having a 'human zone' as a neighbour wouldn't be better after all (and then there are ticking time-bombs like Zaire's infiltrators provocateur (who are the single reveal of where they come from from starting an open conflict with Washington) and Mexico City's secret plans to exterminate all organic life on Earth (which puts it in direct ideological or dependency conflict with no less than six (maybe even seven) of the other supercomputers)).
  • Sentinels of the Multiverse': Played with for the Ennead and the Chairman and Operative. Because they share a Nemesis icon, their attacks do extra damage to each other if you can deflect them. Word of God is that The Ennead, despite being a team, don't actually get along with each other all that great. For extra fun, The Chairman automatically counter-attacks when he's hit, so if you deflect a strike from The Operative to him, he'll retaliate against her.
  • Warhammer Fantasy: The factions can be divided roughly into Order and Disorder, and, since even the good races like the elves, dwarfs and Empire have had their share of civil wars, you can imagine what life is like among the others. Followers of Chaos compete violently amongst each other for the attention of their patron deities, the Skaven suffer from racial Chronic Backstabbing Disorder, and the Orcs and Goblins will just as eagerly fight each other than they would the other races — in fact, Greenskin armies have the Animosity rule that gives their troops a chance to ignore orders and shoot at a nearby friendly unit, squabble amongst themselves and do nothing for a turn, or surge ahead and try to get into close combat.
  • Warhammer 40,000: About the only race that isn't engaging in infighting are the Tau, and even they are trying to decide what to do with the separatist movement led by the renegade Commander "Farsight" O'Shovah.
    • The Imperium has suffered from numerous civil wars, from the disastrous Horus Heresy shortly after its founding to the more recent Age of Apostasy. At any given moment there's a dozen systems somewhere fighting a war of succession, especially given the breakdowns in communication and space travel at the close of the 41st millennium.
    • The only reason the Orks haven't conquered the galaxy yet (and they almost did, once) is because they, like their Warhammer Fantasy counterparts, enjoy fighting each other as much as they do outsiders. Occasionally a strong-willed Warlord emerges to browbeat his rivals into following him on a Waaagh!, but such rampages inevitably end in Warbosses breaking off to start their own dreams of conquest - or power struggles over who should be Warlord.
    • Tyranid hive fleets have been observed battling with each other, but a true civil war is impossible as all Tyranids are controlled by the same Hive Mind. What's actually going on is that the "rival" fleets are testing the evolutionary upgrades they've accumulated against each other to see which is stronger — the "winner" absorbs the genetic advantages of the "loser" and recycles the dead bio-mass to produce more soldiers, so there is minimal downside to such battles.
    • Chaos, as befitting a faction represented by eight arrows going in different directions, is terminally fractious from top to bottom. The four Chaos Gods despise each other on a fundamental level and spend most of their efforts on wars in the Immaterium rather than the material plane. Meanwhile their mortal followers have not only inherited these hatreds but are also battling against rival champions of their patron deity, to prove they're worthy of their favour. Though at times the forces of Chaos have marched in step, like the Ork Waaagh! example above, such Black Crusades are merely temporary alliances between rival Chaos warlords that invariably end when their vicious rivalries resurface.
      • In the first couple of editionsnote  there was even a Chaos God that represented this: Malal the Chaos God of paradoxes, justice, and destruction (mostly self-destruction). It's ultimate goal was to completely destroy the Warp — which as a Chaos God would also kill itself. Malal was completely aware of and undeterred by this.
      • In Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novel Traitor General, Sturm realizes that the warlord holding him intends to use him as a pawn in a struggle within Chaos for the post of Archon, after he lost that post in an open conflict. Indeed, Chaos agents attempt to assassinate him. It is also observed that the aforementioned conflict may have caused more casualties among the Chaos forces than the entire Imperial Crusade up to that point.
    • The Inquisition has multiple factions with very divergent goals and methods, which often come to flow. The main rift is between Puritans and Radicals, where Puritans adhere strictly to Imperial orthodoxy while Radicals are a collection of iconoclasts and splinter philosophies that range from wanting political reform to trying to use Chaos against Chaos. The two see each other as willingly blind fools/confirmed heretics and treat each other accordingly.
    • While the Leagues of Votann are for the most part rather friendly between groups, their hyper-competitive nature leads to infighting when it comes to resources or corporate dominance.
    • Only War: Iris is a jungle world home to both primitive humans and feral Orks, who war ceaselessly against one another. When the planet was invaded by Waaagh! Grimtoof, the spacefaring Orks expected the locals to be easily recruited into their ranks. Instead, the feral Orks deeply resented these newcomers butting in, stomping all over their turf and trying to order them about, resulting in a vicious three-way war between the humans, the local Orks, and the offworlders.
  • The World of Darkness: This is specifically why the world isn't dead yet in the.
    • Mage: The Awakening: The Ancient Conspiracy known as the Seers of the Throne is constantly trying to keep its own groups from wiping each other out in power struggles and focus on the other mages — a lesson the Seers learned the hard way early in their history, when a squabble over how best to operate went hot, led to meaningful casualties, and gave the scattered Diamond, fresh from the fall of Atlantis, time to regain its footing.
    • Vampire: The Masquerade: The Sabbat managed to work its way up to four civil wars and counting. At least two of these civil wars involved a long-running rivalry between the Lasombra and the Tzimisce, two clans viewed as the heart and soul of the Sabbat... and the third involved the other clans, who were sick of getting the short end of the stick, turning on the Lasombra and Tzimisce.

    Video Games 
  • ANNO: Mutationem: The Consortium ends up in disarray due to Dr. C going rogue, taking a portion of the personnel with him, and causing a massive containment breach. By the time Ann infiltrates their base, she ends up having to fight through a mix of both The Consortium's security forces and C's underlings.
  • Myth: The Fallen Lords: Balor's revived generals continue to bear personal grudges from their living existence centuries before. The Watcher and the Deceiver end up fighting each other in the mission "Seven Gates", and you are tasked with exploiting the mess caused by their clash.
  • Baldur's Gate II: the drow are known for being treacherous and willing to do anything for power, even stabbing their own parents in the back. When you get into Ust Natha, you are promptly introduced to the plots of Phaere, who first wants to kill her former lover Solaufein (whom you might instead secretly spare and he will come to assist you later) and then aims to overthrow her mother Ardulace and become a high priestess.
  • Iconoclasts: Agent Chrome eventually gets a swelled head that he's some sort of savior who needs to displace Mother and rule the One Concern. After the boss fight against Mother, his proselytizing splits the One Concern into two factions: those loyal to Mother, and those loyal to Chrome. When Player Character Robin reaches Chrome, he gives a Motive Rant about how he believes it is his destiny to usurp even the Starworm (effectively, the god of this settin) and start things over. This lasts up until Elro injects Chrome with his two-part serum, which causes Chrome to have a Villainous Breakdown when he realizes he's going to die, showing that this thin veneer of charm and religious preaching was all just an act for a self-serving jerk.
  • The Xen invaders in Half-Life encounter the humans of Earth fighting each other, while both the Marines and the scientists Gordon Freeman try to kill the aliens.
    • And then, later, once Race X enters the picture, they encounter the Marines fighting the Black Ops.
    • Some enemy types will fight each other, as well. IE Bullsquid hate Headcrabs and will kill them on-sight. Race X Shock Troopers are also shown opening fire on a Xen Gargantua late in Opposing Force.
  • Quite a few civil wars happen in City of Heroes:
    • There's an island called Warburg that was formerly under Rogue Isles (Arachnos) control, but became a splinter faction under the control of Marshal Blitz. Mechanically, this means that it's the only non-faction-based PvP zone in the game; villains can fight villains, and heroes can fight heroes.
    • The interdimensional invaders known as the Rikti are also split into the Traditionalists and the Reconstructionists. The first group eventually ally with the humans to stop the other from destroying the Earth after the true cause of the war is found out.
    • The tangled history of the Council and the 5th Column: The 5th originally split off from the Council, and many years later was violently reabsorbed. Requiem, the old leader of the 5th, has never been happy as part of the Council, plotting against his fellows and working to ensure the re-emergence of the 5th. Which has now happened, under a different leader, and fighting between the two groups has resumed.
    • Additionally, there have been occasional bugs where enemy groups (most recently, the Legacy Chain) have been hostile towards themselves.
  • The Halo series has a few:
    • The big one is the Great Schism (or the Covenant Civil War) which began in Halo 2, resulting in an Enemy Mine situation between the Humans, the Elites, and some of the Grunts and Hunters who joined them.
    • In the novel Halo: Glasslands, which takes place after Halo 3, the UNSC's Office of Naval Intelligence thinks they're creating one. Basically, ONI sends a squad of ODSTs, a Spartan, and a crazy AI to Sanghelios (the Elite homeworld) in order to fuel the fires of a civil war in order to keep them unbalanced while the UNSC rebuilds (all of this is without the approval or even knowledge of UNSC High Command). However, Sanghelios's most prominent leader, the Arbiter, is already trying to get his people to not attack humanity; all ONI is doing is making his job harder. The sequel Halo: The Thursday War shows that events don't go as planned by ONI. The ONI-backed Elites don't get enough support but still start the fight, but it looks like the Arbiter is going to win. However, the Arbiter then permits the above-mentioned team to enter a Forerunner relic on Sanghelios in order to retrieve a human scientist captured by the rebels. This ends up turning a large portion of the Sangheili against the Arbiter, and it looks like the rebels may win in a very short while. This is also not the result ONI wants, as the rebels are religious fanatics who hate the humans with a passion. Admiral Margaret Parangosky, the head of ONI, convinces Admiral Terrence Hood to bring UNSC Infinity, the fleet's newest flagship and the most powerful vessel in known space, to Sanghelios and rain Death from Above on the fanatics. However, in order to maintain the strife, ONI proceeds to destroy equal numbers of ships both those loyal to the Arbiter and the fanatics. Despite the mess, the Arbiter is eventually able to solidify himself as the main leader of the Elites, and manages to wipe out all the fanatics on Sanghelios by the end of Halo 5: Guardians.
  • In Homeworld, the Taiidan empire is a decadent, despotic place. An incipient rebellion has been forming for some time before the game, but the appearance of the highly successful Kushan struggling to reach their eponymous Homeworld has emboldened them to resist and join the player's cause. Ambiguously canon sequel/"standalone expansion" Cataclysm further explores the consequences of the Taiidani Emperor's death, with the surviving Imperial Loyalists and various Former Regime Personnel who've become warlords or pirates being the primary antagonists in early missions.
  • Civil wars abound in the Warcraft universe:
    • In Warcraft II, Gul'dan betrays the Horde on the eve of their victory by taking off with the Stormreaver and Twilight's Hammer clans to search for the Tomb of Sargeras. While this still left plenty of troops for Orgrim Doomhammer's siege of the Capital City of Lordaeron, Orgrim chooses honor over victory and sends the Blackrock clan, which constitutes a good third of the Horde forces, after the renegades. With the main Alliance army about to arrive and box him in, Orgrim is forced to call a retreat so close to victorynote . Furthermore, the battle between the renegades and the Blackrock clan results in the complete destruction or the renegade clans through sheer attrition (the orcs aren't known for their battle tactics). The seriously reduced Blackrock clan is further devastated by Admiral Proudmore's surprise attack at sea, leaving only a few thousand clan members alive. The war goes pretty much downhill for the orcs at this point. Even killing the supreme commander of the Alliance forces doesn't help, as Lothar's place is immediately taken by Turalyon.
    • The Orcs as a whole, who made up the bulk of the Horde in the days of Warcraft and Warcraft II, were serving as pawns of demonic controllers until they broke out of their bondage just before Warcraft III.
    • The Blood Elves originally split from the Alliance during Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne after deciding they'd had enough abuse from a racist Human commander. Later on, the Blood Elves had their own schism, after discovering that their leader and his forces defected to the same demonic controllers that had the Orcs under their thumbs.
    • Illidan's forces also split from the Burning Legion.
    • The Scourge were once the Burning Legion's second choice of pawns after they lost their reins on the Orcs. However, they too have turned against their demonic overlords.
    • The Forsaken are a faction of the Scourge who rebelled against the Lich King, reclaimed their free will, and now help the Horde fight their former undead fellows. It's arguable how "good" they are, as the race as a whole is at least dark, with a few redemption/cure seekers, while others either actively bask in evil or revel in their undead natures.
    • The Forsaken later undergo another internal civil war during the World of Warcraft expansion Wrath of the Lich King, as traitors under the dreadlord Varimathras unleash the Forsaken's secret plague weapon against both the Scourge and against everyone attacking the Lich King, and nearly kill the Forsaken queen Sylvanas Windrunner to boot. This conveniently acts a cathartic experience to solidify the relatively "loyal" Forsaken to the service of the Horde, purging the nasty hints that have foreshadowed the race's untrustworthiness from the very beginning of the game.
    • Also, the Death Knights of the Ebon Blade. After being freed from the Lich King's control, the Death Knights vowed to take vengeance on Arthas and use their unholy powers against him. However, they're still met with distrust and fear by the other factions, and the Ebon Blade's interests don't necessarily coincide with their allies' at times.
    • This is happening to the Horde in Mists of Pandaria; which is unusual in that it's a player faction, but it is an Enemy Civil War in the eyes of the Alliance. With Garrosh passing the Moral Event Horizon by dropping a mana bomb on Theramore and only getting worse as time goes on, Baine and Vol'jin have begun expressing doubts about Garrosh. Vol'jin is later attacked by Garrosh's personal Kor'kron guard and left to die. Gallywix, meanwhile, seems intent to please Garrosh in Tides of War, and as of patch 5.1 the blood elf purge in Dalaran has pushed Lor'themar and the blood elves farther away from Garrosh than ever; in fact, in 5.2, Lor'themar is specifically looking for a weapon to use against Garrosh. 5.3 confirms Sylvanas is on Vol'jin's side, but it remains to be seen where Ji Firepaw will end up in the conflict.
      • Meanwhile, King Varian has been watching the events of 5.3 while preparing his navy for an attack on Orgrimmar. He sends a letter to the players saying that he doesn't trust Vol'jin, but trusts the players' discretion in helping the Darkspear because every Orc and Troll that dies fighting each other is one less Alliance soldier lost in the fight.
  • Happens quite a bit in the Command & Conquer series:
    • Looking at Tiberian Dawn and onwards (the Covert Ops expansion missions take place after GDI's victory), it is implied that if Kane isn't there, the Brotherhood falls apart. Which certainly proves true in Tiberian Sun.
    • The Nod campaign of Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun starts you off fighting a Nod civil war. Only once you've beaten your rival does Kane return and then you launch your fight against GDI.
    • Then you get to Firestorm, where Kane's friendly neighborhood AI CABAL goes loopy and decides to wipe all of mankind - both GDI and Nod.
    • Tiberium Wars runs rampant with civil wars. Nod troops assault Temple Prime, apparently arranged to do so by a Nod loyalist trying to incriminate Kane's second in command for questioning his understandably obfuscating plans in private, then Kane turns around and orders the capture and execution of his own General Killian Qatar. In Kane's Wrath, the entire first act of the game is spent fighting Nod splinter factions.
    • From Nod's perspective, GDI experiences one in Tiberian Twilight when the player character's commanding officer tries to take down the elected government for perceived inaction against Kane.
    • The actual campaigns in Red Alert 1 are free of this, but it does show up in some of the missions in the expansion packs (the Soviets have a few missions against Allied-supported rebels/traitors still utilizing Soviet weaponry, and one conflict against a rogue faction of the USSR).
    • At some point in the Soviet campaign in both Red Alert 2 and Red Alert 3, you'll have to fight a traitor general/mind-controlling maniac. Even the Allies suffer a small civil war: you have to put down the power-crazy US president.
    • Subverted by the Empire of the Rising Sun in the base Red Alert 3 game. The first half of the Empire campaign even sets up a growing conflict between Yoshiro and Tatsu until the two men manage to reconcile their differences (Yoshiro's Heroic Villainous BSoD after learning the nature of Soviet Time Travel helped too).
  • In Star Control II, the main villain at first appears to be the Ur-Quan Kzer-za, a fanatical race who want to enslave all other life in the galaxy. As it turns out, the Ur-Quan species is split between the aforementioned Kzer-za and the even more extreme Kohr-ah, who instead want to kill all other life in the galaxy. And the Kzer-za were protecting you from them. And the Kohr-Ah are winning, because the good guys took out about a third of the Kzer-Za combat fleet in a recent war. Your first priority now becomes stopping the Kohr-ah
    • You can also cause a Yehat civil war between the Starship and the Royal clans. Subverted in that the Starship clans are friendly to your cause and will help you in the end.
  • The first level of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots takes place during a battle between rebels and a mercenary army, who will attack anyone who does not belong to their faction. While the mercenaries work for the Big Bad, they are only in the city because someone hired them, and the rebels really have no interest in Snake's mission at all.
    • You can use this to your advantage, too. If you start gunning down mercenaries or covering the rebels, they'll see you as an ally instead. This turns the first mission from a Stealth-Based Mission into a "enter the base completely unhindered and take all their items" mission.
  • Since Starcraft puts the player on all sides of the conflict, just about any civil war that happens in-game counts as one:
    • The Terrans of the Korpulu Sector have had tons of civil wars. The planet of Korhal rose up against the Terran Confederacy until it was nuked to glass, and the Sons of Korhal carried on the fight. When the Confederacy fell and the Sons of Korhal formed the Terran Dominion to take its place, remnants of the Confederacy formed the Confederate Resistance Forces, led by Samir Duran.
    • On the Zerg side of things, the player must at one point fight a rogue brood after its cerebrate has been murdered by the protagonist factions, while the expansion revolves around a massive civil war following the death of the Overmind.
    • For the Protoss, there's Tassadar's rebellion in the original, and then a brief relapse led by Aldaris during the expansion.
    • The second game continues this tradition. While the Terran Dominion has taken the place of the former Confederacy, the Kel-Morians and the Umojans are both still in existence, plus Raynor's Raiders leading an insurrection against the Dominion from within. Kerrigan, having engineered her Brood Mothers to believe in Asskicking Leads to Leadership full-stop, ends up having to fight one of her own who felt she had gone soft. Meanwhile, although the Khahai and Dark Templar factions of Protoss seem to have gotten along nicely (even to the point that their militaries have a unified chain of command and have co-engineered new technologies such as the Void Ray), a new splinter group has arisen in the Tal'Darim, who are loyal to Amon.
  • The Locust from Gears of War heads in this route, after the COG discover their enemies are waging the war on another front against their Lambent counterparts in Gears of War 2. The last game reveals this has been going on years before the first game; in fact, this trope was the whole reason behind the Human-Locust War, as the Locust couldn't find a quick enough solution to destroy the Lambent.
  • The Red Dragon Organization vs. The Black Dragon Organization from Mortal Kombat.
  • Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, sorta. Does one man vs. the rest of the army count? Does it count if those are even odds?
    • Jedi Academy has one mission with a situation like this, on the planet Yalara where Jaden is sent to destroy a cloaking device; he ends up in a three-way battle between him, the Imperial Remnant, and some alien assassins Darth Vader had left there years before.
    • The dark side ending of Academy is also a three-way war between the Jedi, the Dark Jedi, and the evil player. Which itself was kind of a ripoff of the original Jedi Knight, in which the dark side ending is still a war between the player and the Dark Jedi, except the player's also a Dark Jedi.
    • If you maxed out Mind Trick, which at its highest level converts a non-Jedi enemy to your side for 30 seconds, it's also possible to create an Enemy Civil War simply by performing Mind Trick on half a roomful of enemy mooks.
    • And in Outcast, Fyyar intends to overthrow Desann. Of course, the guy was insane.
    • To make sure a campaign with the Empire is acceptable, TIE Fighter spends more time with battles against Imperial splinters than with the Rebel Alliance.
    • The Jedi Masters has an example with Kannos' takeover of Hulas' GenoHaradan. When plotting with the GenoHaradan leaders against Hulas, he made the heads extremely paranoid of each other, resulting in infighting. Hulas himself was finished off by Kannos when the other GenoHaradan leaders were all dead.
  • The Punisher has the Yakuza mook-army attacking the various factions that the Punisher has weakened. In one moment in the Kingpin's lobby, just wait in the elevator until the Yazuka has weakened the Kingpin's security forces.
  • Diablo:
    • Among the Lords of the Burning Hells, the four Lesser Evils made a pact to overthrow the three Prime Evils in one civil war, and afterward they started another civil war between themselves to rule. And then it's revealed in Diablo II that the Prime Evils masterminded the whole thing in order to get themselves exiled to the human world for invasion and conquest.
    • In Diablo III, this is cited as the main reason why the Burning Hells, despite all its overwhelming power and the bureaucratic arrogance of the High Heavens, kept on failing to win the Eternal Conflict. Tyrael reminisces about one near defeat, when the demons were on the verge of breaking a siege against Heaven's gates, but then the demon lords started bickering over who would receive what spoils, and lost what was supposed to be the final push. The demon lords are their own worst enemies, second in threat only to the adventuring parties. So when Diablo's master plan is to sacrifice hordes of mooks and assist the adventurers in killing his siblings, all so his mole can betray them at the last moment and merge the souls of all demon lords with him in charge, it works perfectly and all Hell literally breaks loose in Heaven.
  • Doom:
    • Get a monster to hit another of a different species (You can also invoke a fight with the same species if one of them hits an explosive barrel and it damages the other one), and bam, fight to the death. Then you shoot whichever one survived, weakened.
    • In earlier versions of the original game, due to a rare bug, a monster can even get into fight with itself, which it generally will win.
  • Medal of Honor Underground had a cheat, "Civil War Mode", which caused enemies to kill each other.
  • The first warehouse level in the first Syphon Filter game had Gabe caught between PharCom forces and Rhoemer's private army.
  • Super Smash Bros.:
    • Super Smash Bros. Brawl: The Subspace Emissary has the Villain Team-Up degrade into this after King Dedede turns out to be The Mole, and Ganondorf attempts to hijack the plot by offing Bowser and then attacking Master Hand. It's too bad Tabuu beat him to it.
    • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: In World of Light, Galeem's acquaintance, Dharkon, ambushes Galeem and attempts to take over Galeem's project of capturing every capable fighter in the universe. In the True Ending, the battle is technically you versus the both of them, but not only do neither of them try to assist the other, both of them will sometimes create groups of replicas of playable characters as enemies—which then immediately start fighting each other instead of you.
  • In The Godfather: The Game, it is possible to have gangsters from the different families fighting between each other, though it's more likely that they'll be attacking you.
  • In The Suffering, the monsters will sometimes attack each other. Unlike Doom, they don't have to hit each other, or even be particularly close. It's not just entertaining, it helps drive home the idea that the monsters are literal incarnations of hate and rage.
  • In Mass Effect 2, the player learns that the Geth are split into two factions: the main "True" geth that have no real hostility towards organics and sent Legion to help you, and the splinter-faction "Heretics" who follow The Reapers and are the ones you fought in the first game. You're later able to resolve this by reprogramming the Heretics to return to the True Geth or destroying the majority of the Heretics. However, since there's no real fighting between the two sides, it can hardly be called a war.
  • Mass Effect: Andromeda:
    • The Outcasts and the Collective fight for control of Kadara, but both sides are willing to take shots at Ryder should they pass by.
    • One sidequest late in the game has a group of kett, who are brainwashed into obedience to their superiors, fighting one another. Ryder can follow them to figure out what's going on, the second in-command of their forces is trying to get her boss deposed because she's gotten fed up of his behaviour. If the player leaves the quest unfinished until after dealing with the Big Bad, it'll turn out her side wins decisively.
  • Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening expansion reveals that the Darkspawn are having one of these. One side is led by the Architect, while the other is led by the Mother. The player can choose to ally with the Architect or destroy both factions.
    • This goes back to before the first game, as revealed in the Expanded Universe novel The Calling, which first introduces the Architect, who is leading a faction of the Darkspawn (more like mind controlling) to stop the constant struggle between the Darkspawn and the other races through extreme means. They are not shown to be fighting amongst each other, though.
  • Civilization II played this trope incredibly straight, in a way. In a war, if you captured the enemy's capital and they were sufficiently large enough or advanced enough, the civilization would split into two factions who would then immediately declare war on each other. While in a couple of turns they would establish peaceful relationships, this was a very powerful way to mess up stronger civs.
  • This appears in several games in the Total War series, at least from the perspective of other factions:
    • In Medieval: Total War, a faction who's royal family was destroyed, or who possessed a particularly weak monarch, could suffer rebellion as rival claimants attempted to seize the throne for themselves.
    • In both Medieval and Medieval 2, Catholic factions who have been excommunicated may suffer from widespread hostility from Papal loyalists, which can be seen as an Enemy Civil War from the perspective of any Muslim factions holding the Holy Land at that point. When the French are sending crusaders to Frankfurt, they're not sending them to Jerusalem....
    • The Barbarian Invasion expansion to Rome also featured possible civil wars in the Eastern and Western Roman Empires, as well as the division of the Gothic faction into Ostrogoths and Visigoths.
    • Empire: Total War includes emergent factions which can emerge into dissatisfied regions of an existing faction, e.g. Ireland, Scotland and the United States may rebel against British rule.
  • The Archers from Assassin's Creed II will attack anyone on a roof who isn't another guard. This isn't limited to Ezio or thieves, but also pickpockets and Borgia Couriers, who are also enemies of Ezio. In Bonfire of the Vanities you will see Borgia agents and guards fighting Savonarola's loyalists even though both sides appear as red (i.e. hostile) in Eagle Vision.
    • Can be invoked in Assassin's Creed: Revelations. Ottoman and Byzantine Templar guards will get into fights if they see each other, and one tutorial specifically tells you to make use of this.
    • Happens in one point in Assassin's Creed III when Benjamin Church abandons the Templars and steals their resources for his own profits, causing the Assassins and the Templars to have a rare Enemy Mine moment when fighting him.
    • Assassin's Creed: Unity features a heavy conflict between the 2 factions of Templars, divided between classic Templar Aristocrats and newer Mercantile templars. While the series is kicked off by the death of the aristocrat leader, the fight lasts the whole game, and ends with both factions destroyed, though the merchant templars's goals were accomplished.
  • Storywise, happens frequently in Sword of the Stars with the Hiver race between the many Princesses vying for power (from the viewpoint of another race, of course). Also entirely possible with any race, as brilliantly worked into the Backstory by Arinn Dembo, the game's writer. Humans, as we know, can easily split into factions and fight amongst each other for trivial reasons. The same is true for the Tarka. The Liir will fight anyone they believe has become Suul'ka, even members of their own race. Which makes a lot of sense in light of the sequel revealing exactly what the Suul'ka are. The Morrigi have never been a unified species. The Zuul, being religious fanatics, worship their creators; and, of course, no one has ever split into factions if they believe in the same deity.
    • In an interview at the announcement of Sword of the Stars 2, Arinn Dembo revealed that the Zuul will split into two factions: the ones who follow their evil masters, and the ones who choose to side with the other races against them. Specifically, they're allying with the Liir.
      • Specifically, the Prester Zuul have renounced their faith in the Great Masters, and many of them have turned to Catholicism. Several Zuul are fully-ordained Catholic priests, by the way. They also have begun to use their Mind Rape powers for good, specifically, to excise violent memories from Liir spacers, which usually cause them to go insane after a while.
  • Can occur in Conduit 2 when aliens of opposition factions engage each other.
  • Iji has the Tasen-Komato War, which is central to the plot. The Tasen only invaded Earth in the first place to flee the Komato, and in gameplay, enemies will prioritize shooting the other alien race over shooting Iji.
  • In The Elder Scrolls' backstory, the warring between Ayleid city states was taken advantage of by St. Alessia, the "Slave Queen", who led humans of Cyrodiil in a slave uprising against their Ayleid masters known as the Alessian Revolt. Gaining support from the Nordic Empire of Skyrim, rebel Ayleid lords, and even the gods themselves, Alessia's revolt would successfully drive the hostile Ayleids out of Cyrodiil, allowing her to found the first Empire of Men in Cyrodiil.
  • Crusader Kings 2 has this happen on an extremely regular basis. It's quite likely a faction that's under a lot of military stress will begin to fragment as dissatisfied vassals decide to make a play for independence. Also, if you want to get really broad with your definition of a civil war, it's not uncommon for wars between Christian kingdoms to severely weaken the forces available for a crusade. This is less common for Muslims, as both their Caliphs are part of extremely powerful kingdoms, but occasionally there will be a ill/well timed throwdown between Sunni and Shia Muslims.
    • The Old Gods, the expansion pack that adds flavor to pagan nations and allows the player to select them, deliberately sets this up among the more warlike pagans as a means of balancing out their aggressive tendencies. They're stuck on gavelkind successionnote  and tripling the relations penalty for new rulers, ensuring that the pagans will be as busy fighting one another as their non-pagan foes.
  • Strongly implied in Dark Souls III, though the series' love of enviromental storytelling means it's not explicitly stated anywhere: Throughout Lothric Castle, the Ashen One runs into Lothric Knights clad in blue and red, with the red ones surrounded by blue corpses and vice versa. Based on how they protect the princes' quarters and the high priestess Emma, the red knigths seem to be loyalists, while the blue knights, based on their use of miracles and ornamental (or literal) wings, appear to be followers of Gertrude and the heretical Angelic Faith she founded.
  • Fate/Grand Order:
    • The biggest advantage that Chaldea has during the "Cosmos in the Lostbelt" arc is the fact that their enemies are gearing up to fight each other. The Crypters are in a Holy Grail War-esque competition to strengthen their respective Lostbelts, and they tend to not get along with their Lostbelt's King. Meanwhile, the disciples of the Foreign God each have their own agenda unrelated to their master or the Crypters, and have repeatedly left Chaldea alive for the sole purpose of impeding their nominal allies' plans. Were the enemy faction a united front, Chaldea wouldn't stand a chance at beating them.
    • Likewise, the Evils of Humanity could easily beat Chaldea had they come together but this could never happen as they all have an underlying foundation of changing humanity in accordance to their whims and ideology, but said whims are all directly incompatible with each other. The first storyline's Big Bad, Goetia (Beast I), started his plan to stop the second storyline's Big Bad, the Foreign God (Beast VII), and was willing to use Tiamat (Beast II) as what was essentially the ultimate safeguard to crush Chaldea for him in the seventh Singularity, who in turn didn't seem to care about (or even know) of his involvement in her arrival as she went about her own intentions. Kiara and Kama loathe each other despite being two halves of the same evil (Beast III/R and L, respectively) because they have fundamentally different ideas of what constitutes love. Beast IV:L (Koyanskaya) and VII are the only ones that can even vaguely agree on working together but only from a massive distance and the former was planning on betraying the latter anyway via assimilation into her body to finish her plan.
  • Pokémon Black 2 and White 2: Team Plasma has separated into two forces since the previous game: Old Team Plasma, wearing the classic 'knight' uniform, following N, and acting as The Atoner, and New Team Plasma, wearing a new 'pirate' uniform, following Ghetsis, and trying to take over Unova the old-fashioned way...this time with Kyurem, the 3rd dragon left over from Reshiram and Zekrom's creation.
  • Marvel: Avengers Alliance: All of the supervillians banded together in forming the Syndicate to harness the power of iso-8. But when the Red Skull is resurrected, the Syndicate starts falling apart as Skull orders HYDRA into attacking mutants even the ones aligned with the Syndicate, then everyone else. Soon several supervillians started rallying to whoever's the strongest. Dr. Doom on the other hand, just sits back and watch the fireworks as it's all part of his plan.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • Organization XIII is infamous for this, as its members tend to fight each other as much as they fight the heroes. It's almost always between those who wants to overthrow Xemnas, and those who're still loyal to him. Roxas and Axel are the exceptions, as they're the only ones who abandon the Organization for other reasons then power; Roxas because of his disillusionment of the Organization, and Axel because of his loyality to Roxas.
    • In Kingdom Hearts II, Maleficent and the Organization XIII fight each other to be the ones who harvest the powers of Kingdom Hearts, despite that Maleficent is supposed to be an ally of Xehanort, who Xemnas is the Nobody of. It goes so far that Maleficent even joins forces with the heroes near the endgame.
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic: True to form, the ink wasn't even dry on the worthless Treaty of Coruscant than the Sith started infighting, backstabbing, and splintering off into their own feifs. Lord Grantham operated his own kingdom a stone's throw from the Empire's capital city with relative impunity. Lord Trok in the Bounty Broker's event was a greedy witch who decided that being a crime boss was more fun than being a ruler in the Empire. Lord Scourge realizes the Emperor is omnicidally insane and forms an Enemy Mine situation with the Jedi Knight. The Inquisitor and Warrior also amass a faction and overthrow members of the Dark Council. And Darth Malgus (the Sith who led the most devastating attack on the Republic; the sacking/destruction of the Jedi Temple) decides he's had enough of the Empire's policies and makes his own army of mostly "alien" species, attacking both the Empire and the Republic. And then the Dread Masters the Empire free on Belsalvis turn out to be something beyond mere insanity, turning on the Empire (but also attacking the Republic). At this rate, all the Republic has to do Hold the Line while watching their enemies self-destruct.
  • One version of Dwarf Fortress had an unintentional example caused by a Good Bad Bug. Somehow, goblins were divided on whether or not they were loyal to Non-goblin leaders of goblin civilizations. This caused Goblin ambushes and sieges to immediately start killing each other as soon as they arrived on the map.
  • Warframe: The Gradivus Dilemma bankrupted the Corpus leader, Alad V. When he taunts the Tenno by claiming he has "plans" for their brethren in cryostasis, the rest of the Corpus board of directors and Frohd Bek in particular hunt him down with the aid of the Tenno to reclaim his debts and extract revenge for provoking the Tenno.
    Frohd Bek: The Tenno are too dangerous, too profitable, to provoke! Project Zanuka was a bad paradigm. A costly miscalculation. But don't worry Alad, I'll keep your credits warm when you are gone.
  • Star Trek Online: While there haven't been any real fighting between them seen yet, it turns out that Sela's disappearance led to the Tal Shiar and the more properly Imperial loyalist forces splintering from each-other. It may be highlighted more than previously with the Imperialists rejuvenated by Sela's return.
  • In Akatsuki Blitzkampf, the military-inspired Nebulous Evil Organization Gessellschaft develops a serious case of this. The two more powerful leaders, Mycale and Murakumo, are at each other's throats to dominate the group and have a chance to Take Over the World, and at the same time other members like Adler and Perfecti have their own goals and ideas....
  • This will sometimes happen in Borderlands. You can occasionally trick different enemy types into attacking each other (such as bandits and wildlife) and some areas will have two different types of enemy spawn in the same zone that are always hostile to each other (like, say, psychos and corporate troops). It's not out of the question to wait for enemy ranks to thin out, but that means you don't get experience and loot... and that's what you're there for after all. As a result, throwing a grenade into an inter-enemy melee just as one side is about to win is a great way to liven things up and reap the rewards.
  • Commonly found in Condemned: Criminal Origins. Mooks tend to fight one another so often that it's practically a gameplay strategy to stand back and wait it out.
  • In Battleborn, due to the fighting between the factions as well as the views towards the Jennerit's actions in aiding the Varelsi under Rendain, most see the rebel conflict in the Imperium as this. As such, many like the top brass of the UPR would rather leave the Jennerit to their own affairs rather than trust and ally with the rebels. This is best seen in Chapter 3 of the motion webcomic wherein Ghalt's superiors would rather have him leave Rath and Ambra to their doom than rescue them and gain the support they could potentially provide.
  • Sunrider: After Veniczar Fontana gets fed up with the excessive cruelty and megalomania of his boss Veniczar Arcadius and shoots her in the face at the end of Sunrider: Mask of Arcadius, the PACT splits into two factions in the sequel: one loyal to Arcadius, and one loyal to Fontana. The latter faction allies itself with Kayto Shields and the Solar Alliance in order to deal with Arcadiusnote  once and for all and bring an end to the PACT-Alliance war.
  • Since victory in the Cosmic Chess Game that drives the series is a prize that only one of them can win, the three Dark Powers in Nexus Clash inevitably wind up at each others' throats. Player Character demons are usually unaffected by this and manage to work together against the angels reasonably well.
  • The first expansion for Galactic Civilizations II focuses on one happening to the Drengin Empire after they conquered just about everyone else in the galaxy. Just as they're preparing to move in on the last remnants of resistance, however, the Korath Clan is discovered to be committing genocide on those they conquer. This makes the rest of the Drengin very angry (not because of moral scruples, but because killing everyone means there's no one left to be their slaves), and the Empire dissolves into civil war between the Korath and the rest of the Drengin. This doesn't weaken them enough to allow their overthrow, but it does grant the heroic civilizations some breathing room and a foothold to keep fighting back.
  • Modern Warfare features one, particularly in the final chapter. Initially Russia is unified against the west, antagonistic over the massacre at an airport supposedly perpetrated by an American agent. However, the Ultranationalist leadership finds themselves under fire from two sides over time: the Allied forces whom they're waging war against and the internal struggle that is arising from the disciple of their own idol, Imran Zakhaev. Frustrated that the New Russian leadership isn't following the ultra-radical example of Zakhaev, his zealous disciple, Vladimir Makarov, has become a terrorist within their own borders and intends to overthrow the government to instate his own.
  • The Transylvania arc of The Secret World features players unexpectedly finding themselves right in the middle of this when they arrive in the Carpathian Mountains. Apparently, the visiting Morninglight cultists have been allied with the vampire army amassing in the mountains, supposedly even relying on them for security; by the time the players arrive, however, the alliance has broken down and most of the cultists have been massacred, leaving only two remaining VIPs - Adrian Zorlescu and Rada Nastase - pitted against an entire army besieging their lodge. This wasn't due to hunger, either: the vampires were actually following direct orders from Mara, Queen of the Vampires. Much later, it's revealed that Mara was apparently taking revenge for the Morninglight's assassination attempt on Lilith, the Mother of Monsters and the creator of the vampire race.
  • A late-game objective in Evil Genius involves abducting high-ranking members of the various Forces of Justice and replacing them with your own minions in disguise, thereby inciting one of these. Due to questionable programming, this doesn't show in gameplay as often as one would hope — they're more likely to team up to take you down, as always.
  • Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow features one between Dario Bossi and Dmitrii Blinov, egged on by Celia Fortner into competing for the position of Dracula, left vacant by Soma Cruz. Depending on the ending, either Soma Cruz or Dmitrii Blinov wins.
  • While Heroes of Might and Magic usually goes for multipolar conflict where the reason your enemies are fighting is that they never were part of the same group to start withnote . II shows how very useful it can be to your side by having both campaigns start with you having to subjugate the lords closest to your chosen claimant's castle, who refuse to swear allegiance to him, but also fight along themselves, with a later mission being almost exactly the same except this time the lords are allied to one another against you.
  • In AI War: Fleet Command's sequel, AI War 2, it's perfectly possible to set up two different AIs, which are usually utterly cooperative, against each other. You would think it'd only be good news for you, the Last Bastion of humanity and a problem neither of the computers sees as worth distracting itself with, but the problem is, you lose the very few advantages the sheer assymmetry of you vs. the AI had. Back then, it had zero reason to bring full power to bear from the start. When facing an equal enemy, the interstellar war equivalent of a whiffed punch (in this case, Extragalactic War ships out the wazoo just passing by incidentally) can wipe you out five times over if you're there to catch it. You have little time to sit and plot the next move against an enemy that's distracted elsewhere, you need to desperately stay afloat through the sheer whitewater chaos of the AI being distracted against an equal force that is right there, and also hates you.
  • Ratchet & Clank:
    • Ratchet & Clank: The Extermibots and amoeboids on Rilgar will attack each other. Justified as the Extermibots are actually a police force sent to destroy the amoeboids, but they are for some reason hostile toward Ratchet as well.
    • This occurs again in the sequel, where the Extermibots will attack both Ratchet and the Protopets. This time, they actually have a justified reason to do so: they were programmed to destroy anything small and fuzzy (i.e. the Protopets). Unfortunately for Ratchet, he also fits that description, so...
  • This is implied to be the case in the three Boktai games with the three clans of Immortals, the Death Clan led by Queen Hel, the Shadow Clan led by Black Dainn, and the Demon Clan led by Ratatosk the Puppeteer, as Hel seeks to "follow the will of the galaxy" and preserve the universe by undeadening all life, Dainn seeks to destroy the world, and Ratatosk seeks to control everything. Dainn has zero respect for Hel and balks at the idea of her ever becoming the "queen" of the Immortals, while The Count and even some of the undead servants actively rebel against Ratatosk to aid Django purely because his selfish goals go against Hel whom they're still loyal to.
  • Twice in Final Fantasy XIV. Between the end of patch 2.0 (A Realm Reborn) and the middle of 3.0 (Heavensward), Emperor Solus of Garlemald passes away, leading to various factions trying to take the throne. Ultimately, Solus' son, Varis took over. Later in patch 5.0, Zenos, Varis' son, murders Varis as he was attempted to release a killer virus and that would spoil Zenos' desire to defeat the Warrior of Light his way, causing another war to erupt. By the time the Eorean Alliance comes to help Garlemald deal with their Ascian problem, the empire is nothing but a bombed-out shell of their former self, the people either dead, enthralled or running for their lives.
  • Resident Evil had a literal domino effect of this which ultimately led to The Umbrella Corporation's downfall. Their constant betrayals led to the return of former employee James Marcus actually a BOW with his memories sabotaging their train and mansion facility. This led to Albert Wesker betraying them for "a rival organization" and actively working against them. This led to Umbrella betraying their head scientist William Birkin which caused him to fight back and triggered the contamination and loss of Raccoon City. This led to Wesker and his new team attacking their Rockfort Island facility and subsequently causing an outbreak there which destroyed what few assets they had which basically backed them into a corner. This led to one final last stand where Wesker once again attacked their final facility and what remained of their loyal staff. By the time the government got involved against them in any official capacity they were already destitute and, because of the nuking of Raccoon City, their assets were frozen and they went bankrupt. While the heroes were instrumental in their downfall, they mostly just accidentally helped while running around trying to survive long enough to escape the outbreak they were stuck in while the various villains ate themselves alive fighting each other.
  • In Mega Man Battle Network 6: Cybeast Gregar and Cybeast Falzar, most of the lower members of the latest incarnation of the WWW decide to defect to the WWW's sponsor Mayor Cain and form their own organization with only Baryl and Mr. Mach remaining loyal to Lord Wily. After said sponsor is arrested before the endgame, the remaining traitors decide to continue striking it out on their own try and claim one of the Cybeasts, either the one in WWW's custody or the one sealed inside Megaman.
  • Custom Robo: Battle Revolution: After the death of the Z Syndicate's founder, Oboro and Eliza, his two closest lieutenants besides Sergei, made individual grabs for power which splintered the syndicate. Both ultimately want to capture Rahu and harness its power For the Evulz, but Eliza's faction has the additional goal of finding and exploiting the memory-erasing device the founder had before passing it off to the protagonist (who was kept in the dark about what it was).
  • In Cuphead during the Delicious Last Course DLC, you have to face the Moonshine Mob who are also fighting the Ant Cops. However, as the Ant Cops are laughably bad at their jobs, they mostly serve as a hinderance to you: most of their attacks will be more a danger to you than the mob, and while their attacks can damage the mobsters it only rarely happens and inflicts Scratch Damage at best.
  • In Thousand-Week Reich, the German Civil War between the Nazi government, the Wehrmacht, and the Schutzstaffel serves as this for the United States and Toronto Accord. They can take the opportunity to liberate Denmark and Norway, or even potentially invade Germany itself. Unless the anti-Nazi People's Germany has risen up, the TA will not even attempt an Enemy Mine, instead preferring to attack all Nazi factions while they are busy fighting each other. Rebel groups across Germany's conquered territories will also take the opportunity to rise up and rebuild themselves while the Germans are fighting. While some groups in the former Soviet Union will always rebel immediately after Hitler's death, the Benelux, Switzerland, Czechia, Poland, and the Baltic will only have a chance to rebel if the German Civil War breaks out.
  • Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back is one big enemy civil war between N. Cortex and N. Brio's forces. Crash is caught in the middle, simultaneously gathering crystals on behalf of Cortex so he can save the world and gathering gems on behalf of Brio to destroy Cortex's space station, with absolutely no clue as to which one of these Mad Scientists is actually telling the truth... if either. In the end it turns out they're both evil, big surprise there, but while Cortex was lying and just wants the crystals for World Domination, Brio genuinely does want to destroy Cortex's space station to settle a grudge. Crash and Brio end up teaming up and destroying Cortex's space station in the Golden Ending.
  • Déjà Vu (1985): Not in the first game, but the sequel, Lost in Las Vegas. By leaving one of Stogie Martin's trademark cigar rings in Daniel Ventini's office to suggest he's brought incriminating evidence to Tony Malone, and leaving said evidence (the diary of his racketeer Joey Siegel that features unlisted payments, the note of corrupt officer and money courier McMurphy, and the letter in posthumous mook Thomas S. Bondwell's luggage that says his payments to the police aren't in the books) in the desk in Malone's office on the secret floor, you can set the two against each other and escape the mob without Stogie icing you! Just be sure to bail before the Strip lights up, and make sure you tip off both kingpins so the survivor doesn't pick up the trail.

    Web Comics 
  • 8-Bit Theater is a Villain Protagonist example, with the Light Warriors (Black Mage and Thief especially) constantly plotting against and attempting to betray/maim/kill each other. Unfortunately for the universe, they are fairly united when causing others suffering as well.
  • Dominic Deegan had the War in Hell arc, which started with the mass destruction of a gigantic cult known as the Chosen. All of the Demon Lords turned against each other and threw their mortal Infernomancers into the fray; while Dominic was loath to do it, he supported Karnak (who, his Infernomancer having been banished, was at a disadvantage) because it was a literal case of "the devil you know". Karnak ended the war by hurling a spear through the massed souls of the Chosen - when a soul is destroyed in the Deeganverse, it explodes, and this set off a chain reaction that killed all the other Demon Lords and tore Hell to shreds. He then pronounced himself King of Hell, as all other candidates were dead.
  • Something more like an enemy cold war exists between Xykon and Redcloak in The Order of the Stick. Though Redcloak is largely incapable of simply exiling Xykon from his party because he feels if he does, the death of his brother will be in vain he doesn't see the unhinged psychopath as anything but the last person he'll have to betray, and constantly plans around Xykon's short attention span to ensure he'll be able to backstab Xykon when they finally dominate the world. Meanwhile, Xykon is Genre Savvy enough to realize that Redcloak, while essential to keeping him focused and reinforced, utterly hates his guts, and Xykon never wanted to share power anyway, so he comes up with creative contingency plans to counter whatever organized scheme Redcloak will use, such as brainwashing The Monster In The Dark to eat Redcloak. However this winds up playing out, it won't be pretty.
  • In Sluggy Freelance, the board members of Hereti Corp aren't above conspiring against each other for sometimes very petty reasons. There are also at least two demons (Skip and Chilus) who, while both being K'Z'K worshipers, have very differing takes on how K'Z'K's conquest of Earth should be brought about. Made more complicated since K'Z'K himself is apparently dead.
  • In Second Empire, a massive Dalek Civil War is in full swing, both seeking to recreate the Dalek race into their own vision.
  • After a 15 year timeskip the Sharen clan in Drowtales finds that its biggest threat isn't the upstart Sarghress clan, who are engaged in a war with them over the city state of Chel'el'sussoloth, but their own relatives with the clan splintering into rival factions around each of the Imperial daughters in the wake of the charade that their mother, still officially the Empress, is still alive increasingly crumbling until her Body Double is outright assassinated in public. Sarv'swati is entrenched in Chel and has turned most of the other clans against her with her brutal policies and use of the El Cid Ploy to keep the peace, her sister Zala'ess declared herself Empress and buggered off to a neighboring city with a good chunk of the army to gain that city's ruling clans as her allies so she can take the city for herself from a weakened Sarv'swati, and Nishi'kanta and Sil'lice are the only two still loyal to their mother and have gone renegade and to yet another neighboring city to gather allies and attack their final and eldest sister, Snadhya'rune, who is entrenched in her own private estate at Felde and is ultimately responsible for the entire mess.
    • Also, the Sarghress lose their minds when Quain'tana decides to form an alliance with Zala'ess. This is probably the most rational decision she could make, as her complete conquest of Chel destroyed all food stores and trade relations with agricultural colonies and Zala'ess had enough food to defend a siege against Snadhya'rune, but a serious majority of her troops think she finally betrayed them like any other post-revolutionary dictator. They decide to purge her and her entire family and put her former partner in charge. It ends badly.
  • The Knights of Jove/Storm King Conspiracy in Girl Genius is not any where near the unified danger most outsiders who are aware of its existence think it is, especially since there are multiple people within the group vying for the crown of the Storm King and killing and fighting each other for the potential position. Some of them are even on Agatha's side, and some are even on the Other's side.

    Web Original 
  • In The Gamer's Alliance, the four demon hordes of Yamato want to take over the world and enslave "lesser beings", but their grand plans are hindered because they also fight brutally against one another for power after the Cataclysm. Duchess Vaetris intends to change the status quo, however, by uniting the bickering hordes under one banner in order to amass a large enough, united force which she can use to finally take over the world.
  • LaRezisto in lonelygirl15, an offshoot of the Order.
    • It gets better. LaRezisto itself.
  • In Sailor Nothing, this is arguably the only reason the good guys won. The entire Yamiko RACE was against itself, too distracted by their own individual dark desires to accomplish anything that didn't immediately and personally benefit them, and the few Yamiko that weren't too blind to realize this wanted to die and/or wipe out their own race.
  • Tech Infantry sees the Earth Federation constantly going through an endless series of rebellions and civil wars. Whether the Earth Federation are the good guys or the bad guys is very much dependent on which character you ask.
  • In There Will Be Brawl, the ongoing territory struggle between Bowser, Ganondorf, King Dedede, and the now-dead Mewtwo serves as the basis for the plot. Divided We Fall are the Mushroom Kingdom and the annexed, mostly corrupt Kingdom of Hyrule.
  • In Protectors of the Plot Continuum, the death of the Yarrow sent the League of Mary Sue Factories into a power struggle between the Forget-Me-Not and the Venomous Tentacula. The latter won.
  • Humanity benefited from this during the invasion of Hell in The Salvation War, for several thousand years of Chronic Backstabbing Disorder at the Decadent Court meant the various dukes and barons of Hell were more interested in currying favour with Satan and watching their own backs than reacting to humanity's military successes. This cultural trend has not abated significantly now that the invasion has become an occupation, however, which will undoubtedly create problems in the long run. And quite what Michael-lan is up to in Heaven is anybody's guess.
  • What finally brings down the Soviet Union in Red Dawn +20, preceded by a mass assassination of the Soviet Politburo.

    Western Animation 
  • Transformers:
    • This is a very common element in the franchise, thanks to the "eat-or-be-eaten" values Decepticons and Predacons live by, exalting betrayals (and ability to combat betrayal) as indicators of a leader's worth.
    • Happens a couple of times towards the end of the second series of Transformers: Generation 1:
      • Firstly, Starscream, Blitzwing, and Astrotrain perform a joint coup against Megatron; however, the two Triple Changers double cross Starscream, trapping him with Megatron. Later, they start fighting each other, after which the Constructicons turn on Blitzwing, resulting in at least four factions fighting among themselves.
      • Then, after Megatron finally exiled Starscream, ol' Screamer returned and successfully wrested control away from Megatron with the help of the Combaticons; he was only defeated when the Stunticons decided it would be worse if Starscream was in charge than Megatron.
      • Then the Combaticons defected from Starscream and conquered Cybertron, forcing Starscream and Shockwave into an Enemy Mine situation as they both tried to regain control of the planet while not trusting each other in the slightest.
      • The Insecticons ended up fighting against the rest of the Decepticons almost every single time they appeared.
    • Beast Wars and Transformers: Animated both have plenty. Notably the latter for a long time had Megatron commanding a grand total of two Decepticons on Earth.
    • The second season finale of Transformers: Animated was a giant brawl between the respective followers of Megatron, Starscream, and Optimus Prime.
    • Transformers: Cybertron had Starscream leading a few Decepticons and non-Decepticons against Megatron. Actually, a lot of these seem to be Starscream's fault.
    • In Transformers: Energon the Autobots were only part of a three-way-battle between Megatron's forces, their forces, and Alpha Q's forces until the second and latter formed an alliance.
  • A two-part episode of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero involves some of the heroes accidentally ending up in an Alternate Universe where Cobra rules the world. The two-parter ends with the Baroness (who is a double agent in this reality and on the good guys' side) having engineered the "first Cobra civil war" between Cobra Commander and Destro, in the first step towards building a resistance movement. (How it actually ends is never seen, but it provides a "Ray of Hope" Ending for that reality.) Back in the regular timeline, Cobra Commander and Destro often sniped at each other, but it never came to open war.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003): After Shredder is believed dead in Season 2, his criminal empire splinters in half with the Foot Elite fighting Hun for total control. At the same time, the Mafia starts moving in on the now-headless Foot Clan's territory. This is treated as a very bad thing, since they cause a lot of collateral damage.
  • It is revealed in Ben 10: Ultimate Alien that the Forever Knights had splintered some time ago into factions led by different leaders with clashing goals. Cue to their original founder Old George joining them and reuniting them all under his leadership, immediately undoing the loss of luster that had long set in by that point, and turning the united Forever Knights into a very credible threat.
  • Justice League Unlimited:
    • In the penultimate episode of the series, the Secret Society splinters apart when Gorilla Grodd and his supporters mutiny against Lex Luthor. It ended up being one of the best episodes of the series, and unlike several other episodes with this trope, it is notable for not actually featuring the heroes until the very end when Darkseid returns.
    • In "The Ties That Bind", it's revealed that Apokolips had fallen into one of these since the death of Darkseid in Season 2 (pre-"Unlimited"). The League even leaves Granny Goodness on Apokolips so the war can continue, meaning Apokolips won't attack Earth. Of course, as soon as Darkseid comes back, that civil war grinds to an instant halt.
  • In the Secret Wars arc of Spider-Man: The Animated Series (based on a comic story arc of the same name), the villains which the Beyonder sent to Battle World to represent the team of evil all considered conquering the other villains more important than dealing with the heroes. Even when Dr. Octopus and Red Skull agreed to work together to defeat the heroes and Dr. Doom, the two constantly mentioned plans to backstab the other the moment Doom was out of the picture.
  • Young Justice (2010) features one between Kobra and Bane's forces in "Drop Zone".
  • There is one in The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes between HYDRA and AIM. Both are fighting over the cosmic cube. Neither acquire it and the leaders of both, along with their surviving troops, are arrested.
  • In the first season of Avatar: The Last Airbender, it is established in the third episode that Zuko has a rival in his search for the Avatar; Zhao, a Fire Nation top brass who wants the glory of capturing the Avatar for himself. The two try to sabotage each other at multiple points, culminating in Zhao trying to kill Zuko.
    • Zhao is succeeded by Zuko's sister, Azula, in the second season, though Zuko and Iroh are no longer under the Fire Nation's banner and are fugitives who must avoid them at all costs.
  • The Simpsons: A biological version appears in the "Mansion Family". After getting a check up at the Mayo Clinic, Mr. Burns discovers he has every disease known to man, as well as new ones found inside him. However, they all get in each others' way, thereby preventing Burns from actually dying of anything... At least, that what Burns himself believes, at any rate. The doctor who ran the tests tries to warn him that he's actually incredibly frail as a result of this, but Burns, confident in his 'indestructibility', doesn't heed him.
  • Voltron: Legendary Defender: During Season 5, Zarkon's death at Lotor's hands creates a vacuum of power among the Galra. When the ceremony to define a new ruler goes haywire due to an attack from the Blade of Marmora, the higher-ups split themselves into several factions, all waging war against each other to seize power, with Lotor himself becoming the de facto Emperor of the Galra, allied to Voltron and in spite of what the rest of the Galra have to say.
  • Dracula's generals in Castlevania (2017) fall into this once Carmilla enters. It doesn't help that Dracula rules only by power and is an uncharismatic leader, and his plans would kill all of his vampire generals anyways.
  • The Horde in She-Ra and the Princesses of Power is far from homogenous. Shadow Weaver is nominally loyal to Hordak, but above all she craves magical power for herself, so she will backstab him to get it which leads to her defeat when she tries to challenge him directly after being tired of not getting her way. Catra is open about her hatred for Shadow Weaver (her direct superior), even stating that she needs to impress Hordak so he'll make her the new Shadow Weaver and when she does get that position and finds it still doesn't make her happy, she's willing to betray Entrapta and Hordak to try have some control. Double Trouble is a freelancer aligned with the Horde who's more interested in money and drama than their ideology and switches sides when they realize Bright Moon has a secret weapon.
  • Xiaolin Showdown: The members of the Rogues Gallery tolerate each other at best. That said, they do enjoy the frequent Villain Team-Up because against the Xiaolin Dragons, they're all on the same side.
  • The Spectacular Spider-Man: In three episode arc, Tombstone, Doctor Octupus, and Silvermane batttle for control New York City's criminal underworld, unaware they being maniplauted by the Green Goblin, who is trying eliminate his competition and take control of it himself, with Spider-Man caught in the middle trying to put end to it.


Video Example(s):



The Malefactors do not get along well once they're deprived of human victims. In one particularly telling cutscene, a Slayer jumps a Mainliner, and begins jabbing it painfully with its blades... only for both of them to be pounded into mulch by an angry Fester.

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Main / EnemyCivilWar

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