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Enemy Mine

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How Denmark made Iran and Iraq agree on something.
"Look, even if you think we're still enemies, we're enemies with a common interest: revenge. You like revenge, right? EVERYBODY likes revenge! Well, let's go GET SOME!"
GLaDOS, Portal 2

"The enemy of my enemy is my friend."

An Enemy Mine is a scenario where foes must work together to achieve a common goal. (The trope name comes from one particularly famous example.) Note that this is different from Villain Team-Up or Legion of Doom: although all three involve two parties working together to achieve a common goal, this trope usually involves two rivals/enemies that have opposing views (such as being good vs being evil) while the latter two involves characters that share similar views (such as both of them are evil), though they don't necessarily like each other.

This type of team-up usually starts with the villain coming to the hero's aid, usually saying that a certain threat is a danger to them both, or "No one kills you but me!" when they save the hero from certain doom. May arise from a Mexican Standoff. After the team-up, the villain will usually let the hero live for now because they were so useful, so everything can return to status quo.

Frequently, if it is a goodie-baddie partnership, the baddie will look for opportunities to pull something that gets them a profit (or, in the case of really bad baddies, allows them to stab the goodie in the back). If the villain doesn't betray the hero right away, but there is still animosity between them while they are working together, then you have Teeth-Clenched Teamwork. If the Status Quo is not maintained, there could be a creep towards Friendly Enemy status. Can become a Heel–Face Revolving Door if it happens more than once.

Sometimes the baddie is more the hero's Worthy Opponent than a villain and the external threat will be truly evil. In this case, the hero will recognize that the third party is the bigger/more dangerous threat and the Worthy Opponent will be offended that the third party intruded on a 'private game'. Afterwards, it's a pity to see them go back to their old rivalry, because together they're an unstoppable fighting force. (If they don't, they've become Fire-Forged Friends.)

Finally, this is an opportunity to show the villains as being more competent than they typically are. While they're defeated by the heroes week after week, the bad guys can actually contribute to the defeat of whatever threat they're teaming up with the heroes against.

More short-term deals fall under Cooperation Gambit. When there's no common enemy per se, it's Go-Karting with Bowser. If the villain saves the day without the hero's help, then Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work. If the villain in question is possessing the hero, but there's a greater threat the two must conquer together, this can result in a Symbiotic Possession. Any western children's show is bound to have the main characters do this with their local Mr. Meanie at some point.

Compare Nominal Hero (where a character fights for good even though their intentions are not heroic at all), Mediation Backfire (where someone tries to get between two quarreling characters, only for them to put aside their differences to abuse the peacemaker) and Conflict Killer (where someone suddenly and permanently defuses the conflict of others, causing the others to join forces against the former). Also compare Embarrassing Rescue and Gondor Calls for Aid. See also Enemy Civil War or Elves Versus Dwarves (with which it often overlaps). Anti-villains are more prone to this trope than most, and less likely to backstab the goodies afterwards. Contrast with Personal Hate Before Common Goals and We ARE Struggling Together, where you have putative allies who end up backstabbing and/or infighting with each other. When this trope is averted completely, one has a Mêlée à Trois or Mexican Standoff. See also An Offer You Can't Refuse, Colliding Criminal Conspiracies, Contempt Crossfire, Do Well, But Not Perfect, Genghis Gambit, Inevitable Mutual Betrayal, Tall Poppy Syndrome. A defining feature of the Standard Sci Fi Setting. May be a result of the Good and the Bad teaming up in a The Good, the Bad, and the Evil scenario. It can be caused by The Horseshoe Effect.

We sincerely hope that you did not have a slip of the finger and ended up here instead of at Enemy Mime. For an enemy that is a mine, see Action Bomb, and for a different kind of mine which is filled with enemies, see Dug Too Deep. As might be gathered by this point, this article is also unrelated to passive defensive weapons planted by one's foes. Also not related to mines of the underground type; for that, see Underground Level or Minecart Madness. Wholly unrelated to Quote Mine, which refers to the propaganda tactic of being very particular in quoting someone the propagandist disagrees with to convey an inaccurate conception of their actual opinion and/or why they said that.

Obviously, beware unmarked spoilers.

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  • The 2023 Marubeni ad "Share the Challenge" has an ever escalating battle where two rival factions of samurai are forced to team up when zombies suddenly appear, only for King Ghidorah to show up and cause the samurais and zombies to team up against him. A giant meteor arrives onto the scene, resulting in Ghidorah working with the armies.

    Asian Animation 
  • Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: Happens between the goats and wolves whenever forced to work together; for example, in the third movie, the goats work with Wolnie and Wilie to help them find Wolffy and defeat the Gourd King.

    Comic Strips 
  • The Fox siblings of FoxTrot have teamed up on each other in every possible combination (Peter and Paige vs. Jason, Peter and Jason vs. Paige, Paige and Jason vs. Peter).
  • A hilarious example occurs in Peanuts, when Lucy arrives one day to find that Frieda was in her claimed territory (Leaning on Schroeder's piano). Dejected, she and Snoopy (who also enjoyed lying there and listening to piano music), commiserate on a curb... until Snoopy comes up with the idea of Lucy doing Snoopy's own famous aerial attack on Frieda. One swirling girl-fight later, a slightly battered (yet victorious) Lucy is shaking Snoopy's paw in thanks.
  • Spoiler alert for every Spy vs. Spy strip where the spies set aside their differences or work together: one betrays the other.
  • One Garfield short has Garfield and a guard dog threatening each other, with Garfield being intimidated by the dog's massive teeth while the dog is equally intimidated by Garfield's claws. It ends with both of them smirking evilly at the reader:
    Garfield: We've decided to gang up on the mailman.

  • Dr. Bright, the titular character of The Bright Sessions, would rather keep Damien out of the AM's hands and on her side, even if it means being forced to give him free therapy and endure his stalking. Although Damien doesn't always necessarily agree with Dr. Bright and seems to go out of his way to make her life difficult, he claims he would never hurt her and that he sees her as the big sister he never had. He also points out that they're not only confidants, but also the closest thing either of them has to a friend. When Agent Green first contacts Damien, the latter first refuses to believe Dr. Bright told Agent Green about Damien's ability. Even after accepting it, he refuses to go to the AM, stating, "Dr. Bright doesn't trust you, and I trust her." Later, Dr. Bright apologizes to Damien and asks for his help infiltrating the AM. Things don't go well and their relationship never recovers, but Dr. Bright does later express sadness that she wasn't able to help Damien.
  • In the Cool Kids Table game Bloody Mooney, the kids get the attention of the government agents following them as soon as it becomes clear that Mooney is dangerous.
  • A series of murals discovered by the party in Dark Dice detail an alliance between gods, demons, devils, dwarves, dragons, elves, and giants, many of whom are otherwise mortal enemies, to seal The Nameless God. According to one mural, even The Blood War, the eternal struggle between demons and devils, was put on hold until the Nameless God was sealed.
  • A frequent feature in Lions Led By Donkeys is various groups who hate each other agreeing to work together against a common enemy, usually whoever is invading or occupying their shared country. This is described by host Joe Kassabian as the "Grand Unifying Theory of Fuck That Guy."
  • Old Gods of Appalachia: The Dead Queen, the Arc Villain of Season 2, is an aberrant force of death and decay so powerful and dangerous that when she awakens from her seal every seven years, it leads to the Green and the Inner Dark working together to lock her away again.
  • In the Red Panda Adventures episode "Stop the Presses", the Red Panda is forced to work with his self-proclaimed arch nemesis the Mad Monkey when Nazi spy Archangel arranges a hostage situation at the newspaper where his wife and partner, the Flying Squirrel, works. This results in situations such as the Red Pandas getting the willies when the Monkey uses the Squirrel's catchphrase of "Yes, Boss" at him and arguing about whether or not using their combined hypnotic powers to make their enemies ignore them counts as invisibility. In the end, they stop Archangel but the Mad Monkey reveals that while all this has been going on his army of mind controlled baboons has been robbing the city and he gets away because the Red Panda can't chase him and tie up Archangel's goons.

  • In the Stanley Baxter's Playhouse episode "The Pool", a landowner arrests a poacher and then slips in the river and injures himself. The two of them, the poacher handcuffed and hogtied and the landowner unable to walk, must find a way of surviving on a Scottish riverbank in late winter. It turns out they have more of a history than that...

  • In The Gamer's Alliance, Kagetsu I begins working with the Grand Alliance against Arawn Losstarot when the Alliance saves Kagetsu's wife Marya from Arawn's stronghold. Likewise a group of clerics of Mardük and Samachi work with the Alliance against the Northern Horde during the battle of Vanna despite their animosity which stems all the way from the Great War.
  • In Survival of the Fittest, Shameeca Mitchell and Heath Trennoby enlist the aid of Anti-Villain Bobby Jacks in order to mount a rescue from all around asshole Lenny Priestly. Admittedly Shameeca hadn't met Bobby before this point, but she was well aware that he was a killer.
  • In Dino Attack RPG, several classical LEGO villains, most notably Sam Sinister, The Brickster, and Evil Ogel ended up joining the team to combat the threat of mutant dinosaurs.
  • In Chapter One of Off the Page and into Life, Gail and Terrence have hated one another since childhood, in no small part thanks to their mutual interest in Henry. However, when Madame Blue begins spreading lies about them, they agree to work together to get rid of her. Gail even lampshades it, remarking that they're not that different, and probably would've taken over the world by now if they didn't hate each other so much.
  • The one thing that will unite the Pro-Godmodder, Neutrals, and Anti-Godmodders in Destroy the Godmodder is some giant boss that wants to kill everyone.
    • The most notable example is during the second game's Arrival/Glitch event, when the Godmodder and the rest of the AGs willingly signed a ceasefire treaty proposed by Lothyra to fight the Counteroperation. However, this was later Averted during Trial 3, when the Godmodder explicitly rejected a similar treaty proposed by Lothyra to fight off the Vord invasion.

  • Cinderella (Lloyd Webber): After one of Cinderella's stepsisters, Adele, becomes engaged to the prince, the other stepsister, Marie, encourages Cinderella to sabotage the wedding despite being antagonistic to her for the first half of the show. Marie says that she hates Stepmother like Cinderella does and doesn't want to remain second fiddle to Adele.
  • Played with in Coriolanus. After the title character is banished from his native Rome, he teams up with his former nemesis Aufidius in order to help Aufidius conquer Rome. It doesn't work out for either of them.
  • Hamilton: As per history, Hamilton endorses his longtime political foe Thomas Jefferson for President against their common rival Aaron Burr. The show makes a point of hammering home Hamilton's reasons for this — as much as he dislikes Jefferson's ideals, at least Jefferson has ideals.
    Hamilton: I have never agreed with Jefferson once
    We have fought on like seventy-five different fronts
    but when all is said and all is done
    Jefferson has beliefs — Burr has none.
  • Mrs. Hawking play series: In Gilded Cages, Mrs. Hawking briefly goes to see Lord Brockton, the blackmailer she ruined in the first play, for information on who might be behind a recent plot. In an interesting take on the trope, Brockton happily shares all he knows— not because he wants to help, but because he believes that the person Mrs. Hawking is after will defeat her, and there's nothing he wants more than to see her fall as revenge for her exposing him.
  • In Reds and Blues, the two families of feuding Liverpool and Everton supporters (and the audience, who are likely to be similarly split) briefly join together when a Manchester United fan shows up.
  • In The Taming of the Shrew, several men are rivals for the hand of the fair Bianca, but her father won't let any of them marry her unless her shrewish older sister, Katarina, is married off first. Realizing that there's no point in fighting each other if they don't have a chance, the suitors decide to work together to get Katarina a husband.

    Theme Parks 

    • In one of the books, Krahka, who had previously fought the Toa Metru and then temporarily worked for Roodaka against them, switched sides at the last minute to trap the Zivon in the Zone of Darkness along with her and the Tahtorak.
    • In another book, Makuta Teridax and Vakama make a truce while they try to find the Mask of Time before the Dark Hunters do. When they do eventually run into The Shadowed One, the leader of the Dark Hunters, Vakama informs him what Teridax did to the two Dark Hunters he came there to find.

    Web Video 
  • Doctor Who The Abridged Series lampshades it in part two of Logopolis Abridged.
    Master: You know, Doctor, I believe TV Tropes calls this situation "Enemy Mine". It seems we must join forces to face this common threat.
    Doctor: -sigh- The fangirls are going to have a field day with this...
  • About halfway through the play-through of the Bowser's Enchanted Inferno episode of Mario Party TV, the other three players realize that Steeler has all three of the bonus stars, and team up against him in minigames. Steeler did not approve.
  • A common premise to many Jreg videos is different extremist political ideologies joining forces to fight centrists.
  • Mahu: In "Second Chance", even nations who naturally detest one-another are willing to join their forces to fight a common foe. As the Galactic Commonwealth continues to grow in power, it becomes the main target of these alliances.
  • Obscurus Lupa talks about this in one of her reviews in relation to the gay marriage debate. She notes that, whatever your views on the subject, it's pretty likely that both sides will be united in finding Ben and Arthur offensive.
  • In the Oxventure, this has happened a few times:
    • In "Quiet Riot", the surviving Knight Templar paladins offer to help the Guild in a blind panic after the noise of their fighting wakes up a captive owlbear. They accept, but it turns out to not be necessary.
    • In "Rolling in the Deep", Prudence and the rest of the Guild are collectively forced to work alongside her late mentor's old order — who hate her for killing him (though he was abusive) — to clear out his old cave.
    • In "Exhibition Impossible", Captain Panniers resurfaces and proposes a deal with Corazon to retrieve the last of the cursed coins that have rendered their mutual old crew as undead revenants. By that point, however, Panniers is fairly enlightened and considerably more mellow, having no desire for revenge any more, meaning the "enemy" bit is a stretch.
  • In UA:LA, Hero and Stacks join together to fight off Heiki and his fellow villains after Hero tries to stop Heiki from having Stacks killed.
  • The dive into the Korean Pop Music fandom by ColeyDoesThings shows how much bickering and sniping at each other various subsections of the fandom take at each other via personifications of each, but at the end when a non-fan bursts into the room and pleads for their help in combating racist material appearing online they all agree to put aside their feuds in order to go off and fight back.

Alternative Title(s): Enemy Of My Enemy, The Enemy Of My Enemy Is My Friend, The Enemy Of My Enemy


Undertow Alliance

With the Elect's appearance, the three conflicting factions put aside their animosity to combat the threat the "Demons" pose.

How well does it match the trope?

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Main / EnemyMine

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