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Evil Power Vacuum

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"Crow’s Eye, you call me. Well, who has a keener eye than the crow? After every battle the crows come in their hundreds and their thousands to feast upon the fallen. A crow can espy death from afar. And I say that all of Westeros is dying. Those who follow me will feast until the end of their days."

So, the Big Bad is done for. Maybe they Never Found the Body, or maybe they've finally been Killed Off for Real. But for some reason, the series of events hasn't ended yet.

The Evil Power Vacuum occurs when a Big Bad is, at long last, seemingly taken down by the good guys or an outside group. The result is usually a sort of "power scramble" amongst the good guys, the bad guys, and every allegiance in between, as each group tries to come out on top. Tyrant Takes the Helm is when a revolution or a coup dethrones an old evil leader, only for a new — possibly worse — evil to take its place.

This is sometimes the result of Nice Job Breaking It, Hero, especially if the chaos following the Big Bad's fall is worse than anything he ever did.

There's a certain level of Truth in Television to this: any power vacuum can be an excellent breeding ground for the rise of an oppressive regime, especially if there are no other forces to realistically contest it. Cases of this trope occurring in real life have occurred a number of times in the past, such as with the rise of Chun Doo-hwan in South Korea after the assassination of Park Chung-hee, Alexander Lukashenko in Belarus after the collapse of the Soviet Union, or ISIL in Iraq after the toppling of Saddam Hussein.

See also Balance Between Good and Evil, Enemy Civil War, Asskicking Leads to Leadership, Dragon Ascendant, and The Starscream. Preventing this trope is often a reason for Better the Devil You Know and Vetinari Job Security. See also Cosmic Keystone if the new evil that takes the villain's place was kept contained by said villain's existence.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Endride, after King Delzaine is killed by Ibelda, massive social instability follows and petty lords step in, raiding villages and demanding wealth for protection. The Ignauts try to help out the citizens wherever they can, but know they're just a stop-gap and as soon as they move on, the raiding lords will come back.
  • After the Tartaros arc in Fairy Tail, the void left in the wake of the Balam Alliance of dark guilds' downfall is filled by the Avatar Cult, a Religion of Evil who worships Zeref and wishes to offer the world to him. They prove to be Inadequate Inheritors who were easily curb-stomped by a fresh-from-training and reunited Fairy Tail.
    • Tartaros itself serves this role to the Balam Alliance over the seven-year Timeskip, as the Oración Seis were imprisoned and Grimoire Heart went defunct due to the deaths and defections of its strongest members, leaving them to consolidate power over the remaining dark guilds and taking more than a few of their subordinate guilds by force. Meanwhile, the vigilante guild Crime Sorcière takes advantage of the power vacuum by demolishing as many dark guilds as they can, managing to recruit the Oración Seis to their cause once they're released from prison.
  • In Holyland, Yoshii, the boss from Setasho High, and Kato and Yagi, his counterparts from Sawakoh, were keeping a strict hold over the worst delinquents in Kishijoji and Shimokita up until the former's defeat and humiliation at Izawa's hands and Kato and Yagi's destruction at Yuu's hands halfway during the series. Shortly after that, King moves his drug smuggling operation in the area and effectively takes over the streets, even recruiting two of Yoshii's best men alongside other delinquents from both schools and even Yagi (but not Kato, as even King was disgusted by him).
  • This happens in Melody of Oblivion whenever the Monster King is killed. Last time, it caused an apocalyptic war that more or less ruined reality (it turned Earth into a maze, which is meant almost entirely literally), and was only stopped once the killer agreed to become the next Monster King. The monsters themselves are eldritch abominations. It's rather interesting that humanity could fight them, even if they lost.
  • In My Hero Academia, this happens when the Big Bad All For One is defeated by All Might following their second confrontation. Following the reveal of his existence to the public and subsequent imprisonment, various criminal organizations try to use this opportunity to gain control of Japan's underworld. As a result, The League of Villains, led by All For One's protege Tomura Shigaraki, come to blows with all manner of criminals and ne'er-do-wells in their efforts to tear down society; from the Shie Hassaikai trying to resurrect the Yakuza-style crime that had fallen out of prominence with the rise of Heroes, to the Meta Liberation Army who want to overthrow current regulations regarding the usage of Quirks so that people can use them without any restrictions or regards to potential damage.
  • One Piece:
    • In the first Cover story of the series, it's shown that after Buggy was separated from his crew by his first defeat by Luffy, they assumed he was dead. His Co-Dragons Cabaji and Mohji proceeded to argue over who should take over as captain and fought a duel to settle it... which lasted so long that Mohji's pet lion fell asleep, and knocked them both out while sleepwalking during a dream of being captain himself, so he won by default. Of course, this didn't last long before the crew was captured by a Cannibal Clan, and then rescued by the returning Buggy, who took his post back.
    • The death of Whitebeard at the end of the Summit War saw a new Great age of Piracy erupt even wilder than the one started by Roger's execution. This is especially noticeable in the New World where the death of one of the Four Emperors led to hordes of pirates fighting one another over the course of the two-year timeskip in an attempt to take his former territories.
    • It happens again with the defeat of Doflamingo at Luffy's hands. Since Doflamingo held the most power and influence in the black market underworld, his downfall had a negative backlash on all of his business dealings. As a result, the Revolutionaries won numerous wars in kingdoms that bought weapons from him. Even moreso, the pirates that had been buying weapons and Devil Fruits from him no longer had the means of acquiring their goods, let alone getting their money back. The most important of these buyers was one of the Four Emperors, Kaido, who regularly bought large amounts of Artificial Devil Fruits called SMIL Es form Doflamingo in order to augment his troops. While being taken to Impel Down, Doflamingo lampshades this, saying that he was the one keeping all the "monsters" in check and with him gone, the biggest war for supremacy of the sea would soon begin.
    • The previous incidents all pale in comparison to the end of the Wano Country arc, where Kaido and Big Mom, two of the Four Emperors, are toppled by Luffy, Kid, and Law. The result is pretty much the same thing that happened with Whitebeard but doubled. At the same time, the Seven Warlords of the Sea are dissolved and forced back into being regular pirates and relentlessly hunted by the Marines. As a result of these events, along with Luffy and Buggy filling the vacant Emperor titles (while the latter is involved with a group that is putting bounties out on Marines), it creates a massive shift in the balance of power which completely changes the world and plunges it into a level of unprecedented chaos.
  • The premise for the Doryu Arc of Rave Master is that other criminal groups are trying to become top dog after Demon Card was destroyed. However, before the arc is even over, Demon Card has been revived by the new Big Bad.

    Card Games 
  • A storyline in the original backstory of Magic: The Gathering involved Ertai and Crovax, both former crewmen of the Weatherlight, fighting over which of them will succeed the now-vanished Volrath as ruler of Rath. This leads to a series of brutal confrontations that sees both of them turning into figurative and literal monsters (courtesy of some Phyrexian implants) and destroys whatever good is left in them. Crovax eventually succeeds, at the cost of finally, irrevocably crossing the Moral Event Horizon.

    Comic Books 
  • Astonishing Ant-Man has a similar premise with several villains trying to make a name in Miami due to the lack of any established heroes there. Fortunately this happens around the same time that Scott Lang moves down there too.
  • An earlier Batman story, The Long Halloween, implies this is the reason Gotham is filled with super-villains. As the story goes on, Batman dismantles the Falcone crime organization and all other "normal" forms of super-criminals like the mob. As this happens the colorful, more unpredictable madmen begin to slowly become more and more active. Once traditional organized crime is wiped out, freaks like The Joker and Two-Face begin to truly blossom.
  • This was the beginning of the Batman storyline War Games, as a plan of Batman's is initiated by an angry and desperate Stephanie Brown to gather all of the crime families together and pretty much capture them. However, since the plan was missing one key player, "Matches" Malone (an alias of Batman's), those there started to panic and ended up going into a shooting spree that left everyone dead after one man reached for a lighter at the wrong moment and others seeking to fill in the vacuum.
  • Some Batman storylines have suggested this as the reason Batman has never killed the Joker; he worries that whatever threat rises to fill the vacuum left by the Joker's death will be worse than the Clown Prince of Crime, so it's best to stick with the known threat no matter how terrifying and twisted the Joker is.
  • A running theme of the Milestone comic Hardware (1993) was that Hardware's mentor/boss/enemy (it was complicated) kept his hand in organized crime because without his influence, anarchy would be loosed amongst the criminal element of the city. Later, he died trying to save people, and it turned out he was right.
  • When Kobra, a long-time Diabolical Mastermind who had served as a Big Bad many times in The DCU, was Killed Off for Real by Black Adam, his Religion of Evil was wracked with power struggles. This seems to have been settled, as his good twin has been brought back to life, turned evil, and taken the reigns of the organization. And become the Big Bad in a Justice Society of America miniseries.
  • And in the Moon Knight series, there's a new "Kingpin of L.A." filling the void.
  • In Nikolai Dante, when Kraken is removed from the picture and with Katarina's grip on the other pirates loosening due to perceived weakness, four other captains scramble to capture his territories.
  • The Punisher often features these storylines, as it's in Frank's best interest to keep various criminal outfits warring as much with each other as against him and law enforcement. In The Punisher: Welcome Back, Frank he rescues a don from South American rebels so he can call a meeting of all the dons to take cooperative action against Frank, only for Frank to show up with a machine gun, while The Punisher MAX begins with his eliminating most of the Cesare crime family, leaving a lot of gangs fighting each other to pick up the pieces.
    • That said, even Frank recognises that killing The Kingpin would be more trouble than it's worth. On the occasions when the Kingpin actually has been removed from the picture, vicious gang wars that get a lot of civilians caught in the crossfire tend to be the result.
  • In Runaways, the team has to deal with this after taking down their evil parents, who ran all the illegal activities anywhere within range of LA.
  • In The Savage Dragon, a Gang War erupts after Dragon kills Overlord, the ruler of the Vicious Circle.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics): After the death of the original Dr. Robotnik, an Alternate Self, Robo-Robotnik/Dr. Eggman, who had succeeded in conquering his own Mobius, discovered his demise, and bored out of his mind, made his way to the Prime Zone to "fill the void." Much later, when Sonic asks the Zone Cops why they haven't arrested Eggman for overstepping his bounds and interfering with another dimension, they explain that since the original Robotnik was erased from existence, and he and Eggman share a near-identical past, he's replaced the original, and Sonic has to fight a Robotnik to maintain his world's stability.
  • Spider-Man: When Spider-Man helps to take down The Kingpin, it almost immediately turns worse, as less-refined, less-humane, and less-subtle underbosses scramble to take the top spot Kingpin used to occupy.
    • In Ultimate Spider-Man, this trope is discussed with regard to the Kingpin when Daredevil puts together a group of heroes to systematically take out his operation. Peter points this trope out as a possibility, though Daredevil argues that the Third Reich collapsed after the death of Hitler.note  Robertson also mentioned it, when he was ashamed to admit that the Bugle can not go after him because when they did he bought shares of the company.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Mirage): The 13-part story, "City at War," depicts the various splintered factions of the Foot Clan at war with one another, trying to fill the void left when the Turtles defeated the Shredder.
  • West Coast Avengers (2018) continues the L.A. trend.

    Fan Works 
  • The Bridge: After Xenilla and Destroyah were transported to Equestria, various evil kaiju scramble to assume leadership of their faction, the Mutations. Humanity's Stand focuses a bit on this, and on the human Global Defense Force and good kaiju of Godzilla's Terran Defender faction taking advantage of this to try and wipe them out for good. The latter story also shows that while the GDF/Terran Defender alliance is dealing with the Mutations, the kaiju-worshiping Apocalypse Cult the Red Dawn emerges as the new primary threat to the world.
  • Child of the Storm:
    • After the Forever Red arc of Ghosts of the Past ends with most of the Red Room being wiped out, it's noted that everyone from Chechen rebels to Islamic fundamentalists to HYDRA splinter factions are trying to move in and fill the void.
    • It also leads directly into the events of the following arc, Bloody Hell, which are partly driven by Dracula and his Grey Court looking to gain the upper hand in the struggle for power and influence over Eastern Europe and the rest of the Red Room's briefly reconstituted empire, which is now in chaos, and Victor Von Doom's plans to oppose them.
  • A Darker Path: After the major gangs are decapitated and scattered, Atropos recognises that external forces are likely to start making their move on the city, and publicly warns them not to try — on pain of death, naturally. Just as naturally, most of the people she calls out merely see this as a challenge that they have to meet.
    And finally, the others. You know who you are. Those outside organizations and individuals who have suddenly realized that the criminal underworld in Brockton Bay just became a vacuum. You're all eyeing this city off like a bunch of hyenas closing in on a zebra with a broken leg.
    I have one word for you:
  • Guardians, Wizards, and Kung-Fu Fighters: It's shown that after Valmont's downfall, the American branch of the Dark Hand collapsed into infighting, with every mid-level administrator fighting to fill Valmont's spot. As the story starts, Bartholomew Chang (the head of the Dark Hand's Asian branch) has come to the States to restore order. Section 13 later tries to take advantage of this trope when they make their move against Chang, planning to have Harold Hale, a Dark Hand Middle-Management Mook they've flipped, take over in the resulting chaos and become their Mole in Charge. It works, except Harold was playing them all along and everything that happened was a plan to solidify his place as the North American branch leader.
  • Hunters of Justice: This is what happens in Mistral after their bottling and the subsequent death of Leonardo Lionheart. Leo might have been a traitor to Ozpin and his allies, but he was still the most respected figure in Mistral as the Headmaster of Haven Academy. When he dies, whatever is left of the city's central government collapses and the city devolves into complete anarchy and chaos, with over dozens of different factions fighting over control of Mistral. As it goes, Leo is replaced by Sienna Khan as the head of Haven Academy, and while she's generally the most benevolent of all the warlords, her unintentional favoring of Faunus over humans has driven many of the latter over to Lil' Miss Malachite, her chief rival. This is setting the stage for a racially-charged Civil War, which could very well destroy what's left of the city.
  • A Man of Iron: One occurs in Qarth between Daenerys's last two chapters in A Crack of Thunder. With all the Thirteen except Doom killed by the Warlocks, and the Warlocks themselves then wiped out by Dany and her dragons, the Pureborn and the Guild go to war for control of the city. While they decimate each other, Doom absorbs the other Thirteen's armies into his own and uses them to crush both the Pureborn and the Guild, seizing control of the city for himself.
  • More Than Enemies: At some point in the past, Danzo inexplicably disappeared for a while, leaving a huge power vacuum in ROOT, as every agent strived for his approval and favor. More than one of them expected to be his successor. Of these ones, Charca collected the most influence and made sure of marking everyone's tongue with a seal of his design to ensure obedience to him. Everyone but Río. As Charca's regime grew senselessly crueler and oppressive, roughly half the ROOT agents started to rebel against him in any way they could and silently supported the unmarked agent until Danzo came back.
  • one day at a time (Nyame):
    • Much like in the comics, this is a massive issue in Gotham's underworld. When Bruce was a child the city's top mob family were the Calabreses, led by Rex Calabrese. Then Rex was arrested, and his family was usurped by the Bertinellis, Helena Bertinelli's family, who, as we all know, were then slaughtered by mafia families outside of Gotham. They were supplanted by the Falcones, led by Carmine Falcone, who then entered a war with the Maronis, led by Sal Maroni. Then the events of The Long Halloween happened, which saw both leaders executed by Two-Face and the mob more-or-less replaced by the city's supervillains as Gotham's main criminal element.
    • Gotham saw a massive drop in supervillainy in the wake of the Arkham Massacre, which saw the Joker butcher almost all of the first Batman's original Rogues Gallery. In the wake of that travesty, no one wanted to become a supervillain and replace them for fear of suffering the same fate. This led to a resurgence of normal crime and organized crime in particular, in part due to the arrival of Black Mask II. After Jason stamped the latter out and was posed to clean up Gotham enough to consider permanent retirement, Joker V got involved, and forcibly activated the metagenes of hundreds of people in order to create a new Rogues Gallery for him to fight.
  • The Oops Cycle: When a Demon Prince is redeemed, his servants quickly end up crabbucketing themselves to succeed him; in particular, Saminga's former servants do such a good job of killing each other over the Word of Death that he barely needs to act against them. Subverted with Malphas, though, as his entire faction's power structure collapses once he leaves.
  • Queen of All Oni: It's revealed that Daolon Wong was the Darkest Mage, a sort of arch mage for Evil Sorcerers. Following his loss of power at the end of Season 3 and his death in-story, the spot is now open, and a couple of subplots focus on the villains trying to gain power to assume the role Wong left behind.
  • Queen of Shadows: Following Hiruzen being sealed, the remainder of the Circle of Generals, and the Shadowkhan Empire as a whole, are thrown into total disarray, with no idea how to move forward, especially how to appoint a successor.
  • Risk It All. On the night he heads out to take down Black Mask, Ren worries that taking him out will change nothing in the end, as another organized crime syndicate will simply take Black Mask's place. He figures that nothing would change until Gotham runs out of gangs, but that just means he'll have to keep working until the streets are clean, hoping that he'll get to team up with Batman and Robin. He admits it's a stupid thought, but it brings a smile to his face.
  • To Hell and Back (Arrowverse): In Arc III, it's shown that one of the downsides to Green Arrows's unimpeded war on crime (aided by Supergirl's own residence in the city) is the massive vacuum he's left in Starling's underworld. His presence temporarily fills it, but his need to patrol the entire city and his growing responsibilities with the Justice League means he's a stopgap at best. This eventually culminates in Danny Brickwell making his own stab at filling the gap by taking Balliol Prep hostage while Green Arrow and Supergirl are out of town. It was only thanks to Black Canary and Nyssa al Ghul that he was stopped.
  • Truth and Consequences: It's shown in the sequel, Mending Warped Designs, that with Hawkmoth gone, other villains showed up to terrorize Paris and it reaches a level Alya says Hawkmoth used to keep Paris safe from just by being around.
  • The Will of the Empire: As in canon, one of these starts to break out with the death of Emperor Palpatine, but this time around Darth Vader conspires to fill this and minimize a Succession Crisis as much as possible — namely, by declaring himself Palpatine's heir and Luke his own, and tasking Admiral Piett with ensuring his ascension. Piett is aided in this by the Imperial leadership all turning on each other almost as much as they're focused on trying to kill Luke.

    Films — Animation 
  • Inverted in Megamind. Megamind "defeating" Metroman caused Megamind to make a new hero, and Music Man advises Megamind that wherever there is evil a new force for good will rise.
  • Played for Laughs at the end of Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, where Goldie asks Baby Bear if he has any ideas for the crime family's next move, with him suggesting that with Big Jack Horner gone, his bakery business needs new management. The rest of the family likes the idea.
  • In Transformers: The Movie, following Megatron's apparent demise and subsequent dumping into space, the Decepticons try to decide on a new leader, and their argument leads into an all-out brawl aboard Astrotrain. It turns out Megatron is Not Quite Dead, though, and after a power-up from Unicron, he returns as Galvatron in time to reclaim his title as leader of the Decepticons... by blowing Starscream to ashes mere seconds after he'd literally crowned himself the new leader.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • American Gangster: The beginning of the film takes place after Harlem mob boss Bumpy Johnson's death, and shows Frank Lucas's rise to power out of the chaos that accompanied Bumpy's death.
  • Birds of Prey (2020): Discussed during the epilogue. After Roman Sionis' death, the Birds discuss the possibility of another villain showing up to continue his work.
  • This is the plot of The Death of Stalin in a nutshell. The titular event, the death of Josef Stalin, ruler of the USSR, creates a power struggle over who will succeed him. His deputy Georgy Malenkov is Weak-Willed and indecisive, so someone has to control the reins as The Man Behind the Man.
  • At the beginning of L.A. Confidential, mob boss Mickey Cohen is arrested. A recurring subplot shows all the mobsters seeking to fill Cohen's place either being scared out of Los Angeles or riddled with bullets. By the climax of the film, Police Chief Dudley Smith is poised to seize control of L.A.'s organized crime.
  • In Spectre, James Bond's conversation with a terminally ill Mr. White implies that Quantum, the crime organization from the first two Daniel Craig films, was either reorganized into or superseded by Spectre, after Bond destroyed much of its leadership in Quantum of Solace. In No Time to Die, Spectre is annihilated by Safin, who then supersedes them as the main threat.

  • In the Lone Wolf series of solo gamebooks, each time the Archlord of the Darklands is killed, the remaining Darklords fight an Enemy Civil War to determine the next Archlord.

  • Partway through The Belgariad novel The Mallorean, the main characters are informed of how current Big Bad Zandramas took her position — after the death of God of Evil Torak, the Grolims (his priests) were left completely without guidance... until she had a vision, ran off into the wilderness, and eventually came back to take over the church. (The intervening period, as the heroes work out, is when the Dark Prophecy settled into her head.)
  • Toward the end of Belisarius Series there was a large amount of power jockeying between the various empires once it became clear that the Big Bad was doomed militarily.
  • Preventing one of these turns out to be a central plot point in Brimstone Angels. Bryseis Kakistos wants to kill Asmodeus on account of how he cheated her by not resurrecting her sister in their deal a century ago. She knows how to pull it off, too. The problem is that Asmodeus's death would lead to a massive Enemy Civil War in the Nine Hells with someone even worse potentially coming out on top, while rival Demon Lords And Arch Devils would see one of their greatest threats being removed as an excuse to declare open season on the mortal plane. Thus, the heroes find themselves fighting valiantly... to keep the King of the Hells on his throne. There's a reason the last book is called The Devil You Know...
  • CHERUB Series: At the end of Class A, Keith Moore is arrested and his extensive drug empire collapses, but in Mad Dogs (which follows the events of Class A) numerous smaller parties, including former associates of Keith, are now warring over chunks of his former territory. In fact, it's suggested that gang violence in the area is actually much worse than it was before Keith was arrested because of infighting.
  • Generally averted in Discworld. Vetinari remains Patrician in Ankh-Morpork specifically because all the potential power-grabbers know perfectly well that this would be the result if he was removed. It helps that Vetinari himself set up the whole system so that this would be the only possible result, and that everybody who was anybody would realize it. He really is Just. That. Magnificent.
  • Happens in the titular Dread Empire following the events of the first book, which sees the Princes Thaumaturge — twin brothers who have jointly ruled for more than a millennium — killed. Rapid turnover in rule ensues, as the Tervola, the empire's sorcerer-generals, battle it out for throne, whether for themselves or for whichever of the Princes' children they support. Ultimately deconstructed as the most aggressive — and evil — Tervola wind up all killed off, either by each other or during wars with other nations — leaving cooler heads to prevail as the empire stabilizes again.
  • The Dresden Files
    • Anti-Villain mobster "Gentleman" Johnny Marcone maintains an iron grip on the Chicago underworld in order to avoid precisely that; sure, he's gotten rich from exploiting other people, but at least under him the most unpleasant aspects are kept to a strict minimum. If he were to go, the turf wars and power grabs would tear up the city, and lots of innocent people would get killed in the crossfire.
    • Also, in the short story "Aftermath", set after Changes, the destruction of the Red Court has led to a power struggle among other supernatural baddies. The only race seen in the story is the Fomor, but Gard indicates that several others have appeared. And incidentally been fought off by Marcone, who probably has every intention of filling the Red Court's void himself, at least on the local level.
    • This ongoing struggle goes on to be one of the two major plot threads in the next full-length novel, Ghost Story.
  • When Joe Steele — an alternate history Stalin who came to power in the United States instead of Russia — literally drops dead at the start of his sixth term in office, a power struggle emerges between his Vice-President, John Nance Garner, his chief political aide/enforcer, Vince "The Hammer" Scriabin, and his Secret Police chief, J. Edgar Hoover. Hoover ultimately wins, and replaces Steele's dictatorship-disguised-as-democracy with a full blown Police State.
  • With the fall of Nicolae Carpathia and the Global Community at the end of the Tribulation in the Left Behind series, mankind finally has peace with Jesus Christ at the helm of the Millennial Kingdom. 93 years from the start of the Kingdom, however, the Other Light rises as La Résistance to bring evil back into the world, waiting for their leader Satan to be released from his imprisonment so that they can finally defeat God at the end of Millennium. Of course the citizens of the Millennial Kingdom knew from Scripture that it was eventually going to happen...and in the end it was also going to fail.
  • At the end of the first book of Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn trilogy, the protagonists have succeeded in killing the immortal Lord Ruler, who had reigned over the Final Empire for a thousand years. Being, well, immortal, the Lord Ruler didn't leave behind any instructions on what to do in his absence, and the protagonists only have control over the capital city. As a result, the rest of the empire has quickly devolved into various warring factions struggling for power, and the capital city is looking like a big, fat target ripe for conquest...
  • A Song of Ice and Fire likes to point out that finally getting rid of the evil, no-good, idiotic swine(s) basically only feeds crows and opens the "winners" up to Meet the New Boss, same as the old. Just give it a few months/ years to become obvious after the honeymoon period.
    • King Aerys "the Mad" kinda warranted the rebellion/coup that toppled him several times over. But Robert was no big improvement, mainly because his Hand and most of the rest of the Small Council contained oddly familiar faces (who were directly involved in the previous "government" and civil war)... On top of Robert's own disinterest in ruling, and his personal and marital failings. The series is an ode to after-effects and consequences.
    • The city-state of Astapor discovers that overthrowing centuries of slavery by bloody rebellion... nets them revenge-driven, wannabe and actual warlords fighting each other for months to become the new bastard in charge. Each of them enslaving or killing people who had been slavers, or those who just look at them funny.
    • The Riverlands and Iron Isles have a backstory that can be summed up by this trope. Aegon the Conqueror got the support of the Riverlands to chuck the Ironborn out, for instance. But, that's not even a single digit percentage of the internal histories of both kingdoms.
    • Euron has the quote up top for a reason. Hanging back in the shadows for years means nobody who is currently busily focused on wiping each other out on the board has spotted him coming.
    • Ditto Littlefinger.
    • Ditto the Others.
  • Seen in the Star Wars Legends material after Palpatine's death, with the Rebel Alliance (later New Republic) and a score of Imperial admiral-turned-warlords, then Grand Admiral Thrawn, then Palpatine Back from the Dead (to be fair, he was Not Quite Dead all along, he was just biding his time), then a succession of threats from warlords and aliens, and finally a peace treaty was signed between the New Republic and the Empire. Then the Yuuzahn Vong invade and the Republic and Empire rally together to fight them.
  • Tolkien's Legendarium
    • The main danger of the One Ring in The Lord of the Rings is that powerful individuals would eventually use it to replace Sauron. Even if they resisted corruption long enough to defeat him, they'd end up becoming corrupt and replacing him in the end.
    • And in The Silmarillion, Sauron himself was a replacement of Melkor as the Big Bad.
    • Partial example in the appendices of ROTK where Aragorn and Éomer are forced to go on punitive expeditions among the Easterlings and Haradrim to keep this under control.
    • Tolkien briefly considered a sequel to LotR in which Aragorn fights against a Morgoth-worshipping cult which seeks to bring back Middle-Earth's original Big Bad, but ultimately (and probably wisely) decided that it would subvert the trilogy's End of an Age / Dawn of an Era themes too much.
  • Victoria sees this after the eventual collapse of the tyrannical Federal Government. What follows is not peace, but rather every military splinter group or political faction that can muster an armed militia scrambling to secure the best position it can get. At least for some people, this anarchic phase is arguably worse than the Civil War itself.
  • The History of the Galaxy has a good chunk of the novels focused on the First Galactic War (a bit of a misnomer, since it only involved humanity and was limited to dozens of star systems at most in our tiny corner of the galaxy), which lasted for half a century. With the final defeat of the Terran Alliance and with the victorious Free Colonies establishing the Confederacy of Suns, it seems like humanity is on the path to recovery, right? What follows are years of strife and bickering between the fringe colonies, especially those who can get their hands on Alliance military tech (this period is often referred to as the Second Galactic War). The Confederacy deserves some of the blame, as the original setup gave the five core planets a lot of power compared to the fringe worlds (they justified it by them doing most of the fighting during the war). At one point, an unchecked fringe power, the Star Caliphate, rose up (again, after getting its hands on some Alliance tech) and nearly succeeded in toppling the unsuspecting Confederacy (ironically, it was stopped by former Alliance officers at great personal cost). It eventually led to the Confederacy being dissolved, and a new period of chaos that lasted for two decades until a new external threat forced humanity to band together under the banner of the new Confederacy of Suns, although this one was organized on more equal terms and even included willing alien member worlds.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Book of Boba Fett reveals that after Jabba the Hutt's death, his criminal empire on Tatooine fractured. While his majordomo Bib Fortuna officially took on his mantle as Daimyo of the organization, he was forced to cede regional authority to a number of gangs that only paid him lip service in regards to loyalty, all while the Mayor of Mos Espa started asserting himself in the criminal underworld and demanding tribute from the gangs to operate in his city. When Boba Fett kills Fortuna and takes his position, he tries to assert a more firm control over everything, but gets pushback — Jabba's cousins the Twins try to step in and make him yield to them, while the Mayor cuts a deal with the Pyke Syndicate to try and take control over the whole planet. This is lampshaded in an episode of The Mandalorian that takes place on Tatooine. Marshal Cobb relates how the Hired Guns of the Mining Collective were Taking Over the Town the very night the Imperials pulled out after the events of Return of the Jedi.
    Cobb: Power hates a vacuum and Mos Pelgo became a slave camp overnight.
  • Breaking Bad: In Season 5, after the Death of Gustavo Fring a major subplot involves a couple of different groups jockeying for control over methamphetamine production in the Southwest and Walter White using it to build an empire.
  • Happens in Charmed (1998) after the Source is killed (for the third and final time). At first there is an orderly succession, but it rapidly breaks down and increasingly-mediocre contenders appear as Big Bads each season thereafter.
  • In Everybody Hates Chris, Caruso, the school bully, gets trounced in an alley by a new kid who knows enough karate to take out him and his thugs, resulting in every slightly-built person in school trying to become the new bully. It got so bad that Chris eventually got mugged for not having enough money to be worth mugging.
  • Game of Thrones: Tywin's death creates one in Westeros. The hegemony he built crumbles almost overnight, with Lannister puppets like the Boltons going rogue, renegade religious factions like the Sparrows slowly taking over the city and Cersei sabotaging his alliance with the Tyrells.
  • Season 2 of Gotham is a demonstration of what happens in the aftermath of a war that leaves an empty throne. After the big three crime lords of Season 1 (Maroni, Falcone, and Fish Mooney) are disposed of through various means leaving only the fourth contender, the Penguin, to claim complete power, things appear to have quieted down. Until a certain someone deposes him from his position without replacing him, at which point a whole host of increasingly crazy and unrestrained villains who have progressively more dangerous and unusual M.O.s, start creeping out of the woodwork with nobody to keep them in check. It should also be said that many of those crazy and unrestrained villains strong presence owes a lot to the activities of the most influential and shadiest individuals in the city (Hugo Strange and the Court of Owls) who largely make them and unleash them in the public for their own sinister purposes. Ironically some of their pawns end up becoming independent threats far beyond what they originally envisioned.
  • I, Claudius. Herod warns Claudius that this will happen if he doesn't accept the role of Emperor after Caligula is assassinated. Herod points out that not only would this lead to Civil War, but anyone seeking to become the next Emperor would have to kill Claudius as a potential threat.
  • Law & Order: Organized Crime: The events of the first season severely weaken the Italian Mafia in New York City and their allies. In Season 2, the Marcy Killers (a Black gang) and KO (Albanian) decide to ally so they can exploit this weakness and take over major rackets in the city.
  • Legend of the Seeker: After Darken Rahl is killed, D'Haran officers start fighting over the throne since he had no heir. General Trimack comes and reveals Richard is the true heir, but he doesn't take the role, not wanting to follow Darken's part (unlike in the books). This is not resolved until Darken comes Back from the Dead and takes up his throne again.
  • Malcolm in the Middle
    • The entire neighborhood is united in hatred of the main characters. Hal and Lois win them over, and five seconds later the street's turned into a giant screaming match.
    • When Reese stops being the school bully, a dozen other bullies appear and terrorize the students. Malcolm has to persuade Reese to return to his evil ways to bring things back to a manageable level. Reese is particularly outraged when he sees people picking on Stevie (who's out of bounds due to being in a wheelchair).
      Reese: I was a jerk!
      Malcolm: Yes, but you were the alpha jerk!
  • Ever-present in the Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • This is especially demonstrated in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. Nine Words, One Horror; "Cut off one head, two more shall take its place! HAIL HYDRA!"
      • Midway through the second season, Coulson manages to kill a prominent HYDRA leader. The other members of his regional council are well aware of this trope, however, and set up a peaceful transfer of power to avert it. But then Coulson exploits their backstabbing tendencies to get them to play it straight and take one another out before sweeping in to mop up whoever's left; leaving the void empty for at least the time being.
      • A void made bigger when Baron von Strucker, having previously decided to sacrifice HYDRA cells in order to distract from his own activities, ends up being wiped out as a result of the actions of the Avengers, Coulson, and Ultron. Grant Ward is the only one left standing and sets out to rebuild HYDRA for revenge on SHIELD.
      • And once he goes down, the true reason HYDRA is indestructible is revealed; it was "founded on the belief that humanity could not be trusted with its own freedom", and without HYDRA to guide those efforts secretly, they are being pursued openly by elected governments via the Sokovia Accords, which not only legislates control over superhumans, but advanced technology such as artificial intelligence. Holden Radcliffe's experiments would almost certainly have been less destructive if he hadn't been forced to pursue them in secret — if only because SHIELD would have known about them well before he developed true Life Model Decoys.
    • At the start of Season 2 of Daredevil (2015), the downfall of Wilson Fisk has caused several different criminal gangs try to fill in the spot left vacant in Hell's Kitchen. They are kept in check thanks to Frank Castle's personal war against crime. While Fisk's place is taken by the Yakuza who is just a front for the shadow terrorist organization known as the Hand, who have lain low for a while only to come out in full strength. And then it's shown that Fisk himself is only biding his time for his return, taking control of the prison he is locked up and manipulating events so that with his inevitable release, he will claim his old position back using Frank Castle's crusade to get rid of his rivals.
    • Luke Cage (2016): After crime boss Mariah Dillard is arrested in the penultimate episode of Season 2, the season finale reveals that in her absence — and with her right-hand man Shades known to have become a snitch, and thus ineligible to take over — every other organized crime faction in the city moves in to try and take over Harlem. The resulting violence only comes to an end when Luke himself declares Harlem his territory, taking over the control of crime in the area in order to minimize its damage.
    • Iron Fist (2017): Season 2 reveals that, with the destruction of the Hand during the events of The Defenders (2017), a void has been left in the Chinatown criminal underworld. This leads to a Mob War between several of the triads as they try to take advantage of the situation until Davos starts killing every criminal he can find, causing the triads to ally against him.
    • Taken to multiversal levels in Loki (2021). He Who Remains warns that killing him will lead to a massive multiverse war waged by even worse variants of himself as the timeline branches without him constantly pruning it. He offers a solution by having Loki and Sylvie fill the power void to replace him. When Sylvie kills him anyways, Loki immediately sees he's correct with Kang the Conqueror directly ruling the TVA instead of intermediates.
  • The Mandalorian: Played with in Season 3, which reveals that the various Imperial remnant warlords that the New Republic believes to be squabbling rivals are actually cooperating behind the scenes, putting up the front of being squabbling rivals so the New Republic doesn't realize the true scale of their threat. This Shadow Council is in turn united (generally speaking) by the promise of the return of Grand Admiral Thrawn, who has been absentee for years but supposedly represents their biggest chance at destroying the New Republic and reestablishing the Empire.
  • The Musketeers: Cardinal Richlieu's sudden death between the first and second seasons leaves a massive gap in the royal court. The role ends up being filled by the Comte de Rochefort who quickly proves to be far more of an Evil Chancellor than Richlieu ever was. For all the Cardinal's faults he genuinely cared about the stability of France, while Rochefort craves power and wants Queen Anne for himself.
  • Narcos:
    • Once it's clear to everyone that Escobar is done for, the Cali cartel wastes no time in taking over his operations in Miami, becoming the biggest Colombia drug cartel.
    • In Season 3 the major problem with Gilberto's surrender scheme is that as soon as he announces it he creates a power vacuum. Worse, he intends to wait the full six months before surrendering. Neither his allies or his rivals want to wait that long before making a grab for power. He then gets greedy and tries to temporarily expand his operations instead of winding them down. This makes a Mob War inevitable.
    • At the end of Season 5, Felix accurately predicts what will happen after the collapse of the Federation and the plazas become their own Cartels. Eventually they'll just start competing for the best routes, product, and reach with the government and endless war is inevitable without a central leader controlling Mexico's entire drug trade.
  • A major plot point of The Shadow Line is the power vacuum in the drug trade following the death of Harvey Wratten. In the final episode, it turns out this was specifically invoked by Gatehouse, who killed Harvey to give his protégées Jay Wratten and Ratallack a chance to rise to the top.
  • Stargate SG-1 has a very, very long Sorting Algorithm of Evil, arguably to the point of deconstruction. The big source of that is that the followers of a dead System Lord defect to the System Lord who killed their master. But what happens when your master was killed by someone who is not only not a System Lord but isn't even Goa'uld? Okay, let's get this party started:
    • In the Stargate movie they started with Ra, an Evil Overlord who was the Last of His Kind. When they recycled it for the series, he was changed to be the most powerful of the "System Lords", a loose-knit group of evil overlords each with a god-complex. His death started an arms race among the lesser System Lords. This led the main characters into conflict with:
    • Apophis. Starting with kidnapping several friends of the main characters for use as hosts, he remained a threat (though was also in open conflict with Heru'ur) until, after steadily losing power and influence because of the conflict with the heroes, he was defeated and killed by a more powerful System Lord late in the second season.
    • Sokar, having inspired the myth of Satan through his ruthlessness and evil and having a fleet of warships at his command ready to conquer the galaxy, was shaping up to be the new Big Bad when SG-1 and their Tok'Ra allies killed him by blowing up a moon. Unfortunately, before Sokar was killed, he had brought Apophis Back from the Dead so that he could suffer on said moon. Apophis, true to form, survived and took control over Sokar's resources and army.
    • So, once again the Big Bad is Apophis, this time with a fleet of warships poised to take over the galaxy. He starts with attacking Teal'c's homeworld of Chulak, continues by killing several rival System Lords, then on the brink of Galactic Domination, his fleet is vaporized when SG-1 blow up a sun. Unfortunately he survives. Also unfortunately, the nova screwed up the Faster-Than-Light Travel of the ships escaping the nova, and both Apophis and SG-1 find themselves trapped in another galaxy. To make it even worse, the writers choose this exact moment to subvert Scifi Writers Have No Sense Of Scale and Casual Interstellar Travel, meaning that even traveling at full speed, it would take over 200 years to return to their own galaxy. He's eventually killed for real when the Replicators invade his ship and it slams into another planet.
    • Next up is Anubis, who creates a nearly-unstoppable force of super soldiers, and has access to technology more advanced than literally everyone else except the Neglectful Precursors, who are all gone. He devastates the remaining System Lords with his immense forces, leaving our heroes as the only hope of stopping him. He is finally defeated when the fleet sent to conquer Earth is destroyed by a Lost Technology Superweapon.
    • Ba'al takes over the remainder of Anubis' forces and continues to take over the galaxy. He was doing a pretty good job until the Replicators launch an all-out attack, starting by killing all the remaining System Lords other than Ba'al and Anubis, who's still alive and actually commands Ba'al, who defects and winds up in an Enemy Mine with the heroes. End result: Anubis is gone for good when Oma decides to spend an eternity fighting him. The System Lords are all dead, except for Ba'al, who is overthrown, and the Replicators are wiped out. Finally, with all major enemies defeated, the series ended. Everyone lives Happily Ever After...
    • Wait, what? Yeah, that's right, it's the Ori on their universal Missionary Tour of Evil and Doom, but at least the finale may or may not have nuked them all... and in fact did, but that left their self-created Jesus archetype Adria, newly Ascended, to take over all their power. It took brainwashing her followers into forsaking her with an ancient mind probe and falling into the same "fighting for eternity" trap that Anubis got into that the Universe was finally saved...or, at least as saved as it can be with the Wraith still bopping around the Pegasus Galaxy...
    • So that's it, right? I mean, we've even captured Ba'al, the slippery beast... he did what? Oh, great! Guess it's up to SG-1 to Set Right What Once Went Wrong. Again. There, done! Can we have our happy ending now?
    • This trope was also discussed in regards to the Goa'uld in general. When a Goa'uld is killed by a rival Goa'uld, the winner absorbs the losers' armies becoming more powerful. When the SGC start killing the Systems Lords, the Tok'ra say Nice Job Breaking It, Hero as this only leads to a more dangerous situation, as feuding System Lords is far better for the galaxy than one all-powerful one. However when the System Lords all gather for a Summit, the Tok'ra jump at the chance to kill them all at once saying the Goa'uld would never recover. Unfortunately, they then learn that Anubis has returned, and given that even the other System Lords are terrified of him and were appalled by his crimes, him becoming the sole powerful Goa'uld in the galaxy is the worst case scenario so they abort the mission.
  • Stargate Universe reveals another villain became a threat in the Milky Way...
  • Star Trek: Discovery shows this happening throughout the war between The Federation and the Klingon Empire, very much averting Decapitated Army.
    • In "Battle At The Binary Stars", Burnham kills T'Kuvma, the warlord who started the war. He's immediately succeeded by his hand-picked successor, Voq, before General Kol shows up to commandeer the flagship Sarcophagus and secure the loyalty of T'Kuvma's followers.
    • In the episode "Into The Forest I Go", our heroes destroy the Sarcophagus, killing General Kol and his followers. As a result, the tenuously-united Great Houses fragment and compete to see who can cause the most destruction.
  • Supernatural:
    • Mentioned in the background of Season 3 — in light of Azazel's death in the previous season finale, the Legions of Hell are left fighting each other for control, with Lilith (who had previously been stuck in the Pit before Azazel freed her shortly before his own demise) rising as the new "Queen Bitch" in the latter half of the season.
    • Later seasons have Crowley as the King of Hell, taking over after Lucifer is defeated and all his chief lieutenants have been killed. Then in Season 9, while he's held prisoner by the Winchesters and presumed dead by his minions, Abaddon attempts to take his place.
    • After the Winchesters stop the Apocalypse and imprison the Archangel Michael, Heaven enters a state of civil war. Archangel Raphael tries to take over and restart the Apocalypse while Castiel and his followers try to stop him. When both factions end up destroyed, lesser angels try to take over and the civil war gets even more vicious till most of the angels are killed off. Things get so desperate that the remaining angels make Lucifer their new leader since they need someone who can take charge and keep things from spiraling further.
    • Hell undergoes this again in Season 14, as by this point Crowley, Lucifer, and all the Princes of Hell are all dead. As such, there are no high-ranking demons left to take over, leaving Hell completely without leadership. This isn't resolved until Season 15, when Rowena dies and is sentenced to Hell, and proceeds to take the throne.
  • A constant theme in Super Sentai and Power Rangers is that The World Is Always Doomed, with a new villainous faction rising up to threaten it shortly after the last one was defeated by the previous generation of Rangers. Fridge Brilliance comes into play when you realize that the next faction of villains couldn't have risen up if their predecessors had won.
  • The Wire: by the beginning of season three, the Barksdale crew has lost most of the higher-ups of the gang to jail, and the city decides to demolish the high rise housing projects that the gang operated out of. This leads to a gang war with the new upstart Marlo Stanfield. After Avon Barksdale is sent back to jail and Stringer Bell is killed, Marlo becomes the new kingpin in the Westside, and is immediately known to be much more scary and deadly than the Barksdale organization.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Believe it or not, this is how Triple H wound up becoming who he was. The Undertaker and The Rock both ended up injured. Trips, who was at the time thought not to be over enough to hold the spot, got moved up by default.
  • In the WWE, this tends to happen when someone in the main event is either out for a long time, becomes a part-timer, or retires. In fact, from 2009 to 2011, WWE lost so much main event talent that it ultimately led to the demise of the brand extension, as there weren't enough top stars to spread across both RAW and SmackDown! and build stories around. It took until 2016 and the rise of NXT for there to be a deep enough roster to justify bringing the brand extension back.
    • After Jeff Hardy left WWE, SmackDown! began to suffer a dearth of top faces, which is one of the reasons Batista moved back to the blue brand after he returned from injury. Then, Batista's Face–Heel Turn and eventual move to RAW in 2010 to feud with John Cena meant that SmackDown! spent most of that year without a real top face. Edge tried to take up that role when he returned after winning that year's Royal Rumble, but he had trouble connecting with the audience as a face, eventually leading to him being traded to RAW and making a Face–Heel Turn. Rey Mysterio Jr. and The Big Show had better luck, but were obvious patch jobs, and The Undertaker was beginning to slow down his schedule around this time. Then Edge was traded back to SmackDown!, having finally gotten over as a face after entering a feud with the Anonymous General Manager of RAW, and was able to take the position permanently. At least, until he had to retire, which, well, led to the example below.
    • Edge's first retirement couldn't have come at a worse time — the main event scene was already severely depleted, Shawn Michaels and Batista having retired, Triple H and The Undertaker semi-retired, Chris Jericho on hiatus for the entire year, and Rey Mysterio Jr. embroiled in a feud with Cody Rhodes, downgrading him to mid-carder status for the time being. They had to bump up the draft six weeks early because SmackDown! didn't have a top babyface, so Randy Orton was hastily moved to the blue brand. The vacuum was gradually filled by CM Punk (who ascended to superstardom during the second Summer of Punk, allowing him to permanently take Edge's spot in the main event scene), Christian (whose feud with Randy cemented him as a possible main event player), and various younger talents such as Daniel Bryan and Dolph Ziggler. This is why building up new talent is so important — you can't risk a scenario where you don't have a big enough name to have decent, money-making feuds with.
    • A consequence of CM Punk's rise to superstardom is that he had to make a Heel–Face Turn — which meant that RAW no longer had a top heel for the rest of 2011. They tried to push Alberto Del Rio into that position, but he had a hard time to connecting with the audience and then he got injured towards the end of the year. The Miz and R-Truth tried as well, but everyone saw them as upper-midcard at best, and then Truth got busted for breaking the Wellness Policy and sent on a Wellness Vacation, necessitating the break up of their partnership. It took the return of Chris Jericho for RAW and the company in general to have a real main event heel again, and even then he only stuck around for the first six or so months of 2012. Eventually, Punk himself had to make a Face–Heel Turn to remedy the problem, having long since proven himself to be an effective top heel thanks to his feud with Jeff Hardy three years prior. And even then, Punk was so over with the audience that half the crowd kept cheering for him anyway, so when he came back after a two month hiatus in 2013, he was automatically a face again. It took the rise of The Authority and their various intermediaries for the problem to finally be solved.
    • The reliance on part-time performers such as The Rock and Brock Lesnar in the early half of The New '10s was a band-aid on the situation while the WWE was building up new stars. Around that time, the only bonafide main event talent that the WWE had full-time, the type of talent you'd allow to headline WrestleMania, was John Cena, CM Punk, and Randy Orton. While they were carrying that responsibility, WWE busied itself with building up the younger talent, particularly Daniel Bryan and the members of The Shield. Then when CM Punk unexpectedly walked out in January of 2014, Bryan got elevated to take his spot while The Shield broke up six months later, elevating all three to upper-midcard/main event talent. This means that the WWE now has six full-time potential main-eventers on top of part-timers such as Lesnar, Triple H, Chris Jericho, and the Undertaker, which is a vastly improved situation compared to 2011's situation above.
    • However, they began to over-rely on part-timers as the year went on, which became an issue in 2015. The problem exposed itself when, in late 2015, the main event scene was depleted again. First, Sting suffered a Game-Breaking Injury at Night of Champions that year. John Cena requested time off to film a TV show earlier in the year, and was gone from late October to the rest of the year. Then Randy Orton's shoulder was injured again, putting him out for the rest of the year. Not even a month after that, the then-WWE World Heavyweight Champion, Seth Rollins, got injured, putting him out until after WrestleMania. With Brock Lesnar not due until WM season, Chris Jericho no longer a part of TV, and Daniel Bryan's in-ring career in jeopardy (for the record, Bryan would retire only a couple months later in February 2016), WWE effectively lost their entire main event scene in the span of three months, now lacking a top face and a top heel. At this point, they have no choice but to make a new star if they want to make it to the next WrestleMania with a decent profit.
      • And as it turns out, this was a prelude to an injury epidemic, when members of the main roster started dropping like flies while others were rumored to be working more hurt than usual. Cesaro, Sin Cara, and Wade Barrett were also out by the end of the year. Within two weeks of his return from his time off, Cena was injured too, and by the end of January, so were Sheamus and Alberto Del Rio. Three weeks before 'Mania, the injury bug struck Bray Wyatt's back and Adrian Neville's ankle. Not even the divas were immune — Nikki Bella took time off to deal with a back/neck injury that turned out to be potentially career-ending, and Naomi was also put on the shelf (briefly) thanks to injury. Even NXT got in on the act: Tye Dillinger was injured at a house show during a match with Sami Zayn (who had just come back from injury), and NXT Champion Finn Bálor suffered an ankle injury at another house show about a week or so later during his match with Samoa Joe. There is some perverse irony in the fact that the injury bug struck during the road to the company's biggest show of the year.
      • And for the final cherry on the top: Roman Reigns, one of the headliners for WrestleMania 32, had to be written out so he could get surgery for a deviated septum. He would still be able to do the match, but nonetheless he would miss at least two weeks of build. That left Dean Ambrose the only full-time main event talent active, and since his opponent at Mania, Brock Lesnar, was only booked for a couple more appearances, Ambrose and Triple H were stuck having to carry RAW by themselves by starting a mini-feud for the upcoming WWE Roadblock Network Special. Just for the record, that year's Mania was to be held in Dallas at the AT&T Stadium (aka the Cowboys Stadium), and WWE was planning on selling it out and breaking the 108,000 attendance record. By the time of Reigns' facial reconstruction surgery, they were more concerned with achieving a decent buy rate.
    • In short, over the course of five years, these main eventers either retired, went into part-timer status, were put on the shelf indefinitely, or left: Shawn Michaels, Batista, Chris Jericho, The Undertaker, Edge, CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Triple H, John Cena, and Randy Orton. Ten wrestlers that the company could rely on to headline major PPVs such as SummerSlam or WrestleMania are all but gone in the last five years — for perspective, that's two main eventers per year. And the only stars that are currently over enough that the company would be comfortable with on top are The Shield. To say the company is in a bad spot currently would be a severe understatement.
    • Three and a half years later, another massive hole opened in the main event scene: Roman Reigns, the then-Universal Champion, was forced to relinquish the title...because his leukemia returned. On top of being the first time in the entire history of the company that someone that high-up the card had to go on hiatus under such circumstances, the company basically had to treat the situation as if he just retired because there was no way they could determine a possible time frame for a return (if he ever returns). This was detrimental to the company for several reasons: Reigns had been built up for the past few years as John Cena's successor, and the number of potential stars that could take his place in a reasonable time frame could be counted on one hand — and thanks to the brand split, they were all spread out between both shows. WWE was forced to push up Dean Ambrose's Face–Heel Turn to the same night Reigns relinquished the title just so they could push him and Seth Rollins back up to the main event as the new top heel and top face. That was because around the same time, another injury epidemic hit the company and took out several wrestlers that could move up the card — Ambrose and Rollins were two of the four remaining established main event talent on RAW after Reigns' departure.
  • At the end of the 2011 CHIKARA season, the rudo stable Die Bruderschaft des Kreuzes (BDK) had been forcibly disbanded. Ares, Claudio Castagnoli (Antonio Cesaro) and Sinn Bodhi were all no longer with the promotion, and Eddie Kingston and UltraMantis Black were both tecnicos. The opening storyline for 2012 being which of the remaining rudos would come out on top of the heap. Tim Donst (Ares' Dragon), Obariyon (Bodhi's Dragon) and Ophidian all in the mix.
    • This has arguably been a recurring issue for CHIKARA. Sweet N Sour International was defeated and The Kings of Wrestling rose to become a threat. The KOW fell apart and F.I.S.T. and the UnStable both seemed to be fighting for top rudo spot, before the aforementioned BDK rose. When the BDK was disbanded, the Titor Conglomerate took over and eventually shut the company down. When the company was purchased by someone else and came back, Titor sent Deucalion and the Flood to menace CHIKARA. Then Deucalion was vanquished and the Flood fell apart, the void is starting to get filled by the Hexed Men of Nazmaldun...
  • TNA:
    • Without a doubt, TNA's biggest problem. The promotion has spent 55% of its existence besieged by some large heel faction trying to take over the company. Then the giant, super-faction starts in-feuding, wrestlers get released, and the stable dwindles down to nonexistence. Then we got at most a year before another faction starts up and we go through the whole process again.
    • The main event scene. Started by the signing of numerous ex-WWE stars, they're pushed at the expense of the young, homegrown TNA talent. Then when they leave, TNA finds itself in a scramble because they weren't able to build up new stars in the meantime and were relying on these "big-name" stars from the WWE to carry the main event. Rather than build up said younger, homegrown talent, they try to attract some other "big-name", former-WWE talent instead.
    • In fact, you can make the argument that TNA's existence was founded on both this trope and nepotism. This trope in the sense that it was meant to replace WCW, and nepotism because it was founded by the Jarretts so Jeff Jarrett could be in the spotlight for a while. All it did was become a Replacement Scrappy for WCW which never reached anything close to the original's success.

  • In The Gamer's Alliance, when King Renu dies in the First Age, his kingdom becomes a battleground for rival factions until the Mullencamp cult led by Sydney Losstarot defeats the other factions and takes over. Demons take over the previously villainous Yamato Empire, rally behind four different hordes and begin fighting against each other when their master, the dark god Mardük, kicks the bucket after the Cataclysm in the Third Age.

    Video Games 
  • The entire premise of the AdventureQuest spinoff WarpForce. Folowing The'Galin's cleansing at the end of the Devourer saga, the majority of his 'Network' of alien conquests and followers was stil at large and wrecking havoc everywhere throughout the galaxy, the titular Warpforce being created to hunt them down.
    • Also following the Devourer Saga was the fate of Darkovia. During it, the normally Werewolf and Vampire dominated forest was conquered by Wolfwing's son Balius (aka Nightbane), a Dracopyrenote  who towards the end of the saga pulled a Heel–Face Turn and tried to fight the manifestation of the titular Devourer/The'Galin only to get annihilated for his trouble. His death created one of these in Darkovia allowing his son, Donovan to easily instigate a war between the humans, vampires, werewolves and werepyres and setting the stage for the Dracopyre Legacy Saga.
  • The Ascent: The premise of the story is that The Ascent Cyberpunk Mega-Corp failed under mysterious circumstances and the Player Character is under Indentured Servitude to work for some of the unscrupulous groups warring over the scraps.
  • Batman: Arkham Knight shows two aspects to this trope. In the immediate aftermath of Joker's death, Gotham's violent crimes (and crime in general) take a nosedive. For the better part of year, it's never been so peaceful. However the Joker was actually a mitigating factor of sorts to the other criminals in the city, keeping them fighting amongst themselves. Now with that obstacle gone, the villains can unite to take down their mutual enemy. So they wreak terror on Gotham together, on an unprecedented scale, to rid themselves of the Dark Knight once and for all.
  • In BloodRayne 2, this is what happens at the end of the game: after Rayne killed her evil father and siblings, it turns out that there are other vampire lords out there that want to carve out Kagan's kingdom among themselves following his death. With much of the world falling into chaos and lawlessness thanks to Kagan's scheme to blot out the sun forcing humanity underground as the surface is overrun with monsters, the vampires don't need to hide in the shadows anymore since humans are now easy pickings for them. Rayne is left with no choice, but inherit her father's place to keep it from falling into worse hands.
  • The villains in Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow are a cult that believes that Dracula's death and Soma's refusal to take his place have resulted in a power vacuum that must be filled to preserve the Balance Between Good and Evil.
  • Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 Dracula is a extremely powerful Evil Overlord hellbent in taking revenge against the world, but its acknowledged that he keeps two of his worst enemies — Zobek the Lord of Necromancers and Satan himself — from also threatening the world due to sheer fear of him, and they will simply take his place should Dracula ever dies. It soon turns into a plot point when his son Alucard convinces him to fake his death so both Zobek and Satan can come out of hiding, giving him the opportunity to eliminate them in one stroke.
  • The incomplete and unreleased Daredevil video game would have featured The Kingpin faking his death in order to create a power vacuum in Hell's Kitchen. After the city's gangs devastated one another to become the new top dog, Kingpin would have made his return and finished them off.
  • This is what happens in the strange secret ending of Demon's Crest that you get by beating Phalanx early, before he's marked on the map. Firebrand hasn't assembled the Crest and thus lacks the power to rule in Phalanx's place, so he takes off, leaving the Ghoul Realm in anarchy.
  • In Destiny 2, the "Shadowkeep" storyline shows that the Hidden Swarm, the Hive sect Crota commanded, have fallen into this. With their leader Crota, as well as his father Oryx and all of Oryx's Court slain by the Guardians, the Hidden Swarm retreated into hiding beneath the Hellmouth on the Moon. Many of the Swarm, still devoted to the Sword Logic, decided that what had to be done now was to decide a new leader, with violence. As such, aspiring Hive soldiers engaged in gladiatorial combat in the Pit at the bottom of the Hellmouth, vying for leadership of the Swarm. Hashladun, Crota's daughter, observed what was happening with disgust, recognizing that they were only digging themselves deeper this way. Not to mention, the Guardians had already taken out all their best warriors, so the "champion" determined by this slaughter wouldn't be anyone extraordinary anyway.
    • In general, a power vacuum has been taking place for the Hive ever since the death of Oryx, the Taken King. Certain other powerful Hive, such as Alak-Hul, and even intelligent Taken, such as Malok, attempted to fill the void, only to be killed off by the Guardians. In Destiny 2, Savathun effectively managed to place herself at the head of the Hive, using Quria, Blade Transform, a Taken Vex Axis Mind given to her by Oryx, to take control of the Taken for herself. While her sister Xivu Arath remains a major player in the struggle, Savathun, through her cunning, managed to keep ahead of her. Then, in "Season of Arrivals", Savathun rebelled against the Deep, or rather, its true master, the Witness, by attempting to prevent it from making contact with the Guardians. When that failed, Savathun was branded as a heretic by the rest of the Hive, forcing her into exile. With Savathun gone, the power vacuum officially came to an end as Xivu Arath soon became the only remaining Hive god bound to the Deep. "Season Of The Lost" cemented this with Xivu being given control of the Taken.
  • This is the backdrop of the original Disgaea game. With King Krichevskoy dead and his successor Prince Laharl nowhere to be found, most of the king's vassals went rogue, deciding to take a shot at being the next Overlord. After Laharl wakes up, he's none to pleased to find out most of the castle's denizens had ditched him. The direct sequel, Disgaea D2: A Brighter Darkness, shows that the Netherworld is pretty much in the same state more or less, due to very few people acknowledging Laharl as the new Overlord due of his general lack of popularity among the masses. To make things worse, there's the Krichevskoy Group, a political faction formed by former vassals of Krichevskoy, who think that the young prince is an Inadequate Inheritor and are trying to prop up a Puppet King, a female knight called Barbara who is seemingly unable to think by herself, in lieu of him.
  • Dragon Age: Origins
    • This is the core theme of the series; "Yesterday's slaves become today's oppressors." When the "Old Gods" fell, the Tevinter Imperium took over. When Andraste broke Tevinter's back, her acolytes set up the Thedas equivalent of Christianity around her, and we all know how that ended. When the Chantry started to lose their grip on the peoples' faith, the Orlesians "lent" them a hand and became the papal capital. When the blights started and the Orlesians couldn't suvert their way out of a horde of endless killers, the Grey Wardens used fear and steadfast determination at the same time to effectively take over the world by gaining the power to conscript ANYONE, even kings. And when Corypheus comes along and fucks with the entire world order, nearly breaking it under his rule, a small band of heroes known as The Inquisition acquires more power in a single year than any of the previous factions have in their first fifty.
    • Implied to be a force at play in the expansion Awakening. The Architect existed before the Blight, but was unable to attempt to "awaken" other Darkspawn until the Archdemon arose and commanded them to the surface. However, while the Archdemon lived, it essentially put out interference, keeping the Architect's plans from bearing fruit. It was only after the Archdemon's death — a time that should have sent the Darkspawn back underground — that the Architect was able to begin his mission. Within a few years of the start of the Blight, his schemes have snowballed to the point that one NPC mentions that the Darkspawn army is greater than or equal to a Blight's strength — something unheard of in the world previously.
    • The Architect also created his own rival the Mother, a Broodmother that did not appreciate her newfound "freedom" since she believes that existence without the song of the Old Gods is unbearable. The plotline of Awakening is about the Warden Commander getting dragged into their Enemy Civil War.
  • In Fallout 2, if the Player Character kills all four of The Dons ruling New Reno then the city self-destructs and is left a ruin.
  • Several characters consider this to be the fate of Caesar's Legion in Fallout: New Vegas if Caesar dies. While he does have a successor in Legate Lanius, without a charismatic leader to hold the Legion together it will inevitably crumble back into the warring tribes that it was forged from. This is a problem, as the Legion was definitely a lesser evil, owing to the safety and discipline it brought to the formerly anarchic lands of Arizona.
    • The Van Graff crime family was the result of this, as the Chosen One finding a cure for Jet addiction led to the collapse of the Mordino family in New Reno which allowed the Van Graffs to establish a foothold and spread their influence.
  • Mad King Ashnard's death in Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance leaves Daein under the merciless occupation of the Begnion empire in the sequel, Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn. Restoring Daein to sovereignty is the plot of Part 1, though they're secretly still under Begnion's rule by a blood pact.
  • Homeworld II's main antagonists are a result of this. The Taiidani Imperium came apart at the seams at the end of the first game, with a vicious civil war turning one vast Interstellar Empire into a much smaller interstellar Republic, a bunch of newly-independent systems and a lot of Former Regime Personnel with a cashflow problem. The ones who didn't turn warlord or pirate formed various "loyalist" factions with the goal of overthrowing the Republic and restoring the Imperium to its former glory, and might have got somewhere if they spent less time fighting among themselves about who'd get to call the shots after they won. Enter the Vaygr from stage galactic-spinwards, particularly a clever and ambitious clan chieftain by the name of Makaan.
  • Injustice 2: This is precisely what happens after Superman's Regime is overthrown by the Insurgency in Injustice: Gods Among Us. With the totalitarian government preserving order through fear out of their way, supervillains come out of the woodwork rallying under Gorilla Grodd's Society to wreak havoc on the world. To make things worse, superheroes have been spread very thin as those who didn't join Superman ended up being killed by him, leaving Batman with very few allies left to fight against this new menace. And if that wasn't enough, Brainiac joins the fray, and he's known to collect cities and destroy planets, and was responsible for Krypton's destruction, thus being indirectly behind the events of Injustice: Gods Among Us.
  • The Sith Civil War shortly before the events of Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords was the result of this, thanks to Sith Chronic Backstabbing Disorder and the loss of Darth Revan's Cult of Personality. How it exactly plays out depends on the ending chosen for the first game; in the Light Side version Revan led a Jedi invasion force to drive the Sith from Korriban, resulting in them devolving into feuding warlords fighting over his former territory before being united under the Sith Triumvirate. In the Dark Side version, Darth Revan united the Sith under his banner once more only to ditch them to find the True Sith after regaining his memories. With him gone, the Sith end up destroying each other fighting for control of the planet, with the survivors picked up by the Triumvirate. Regardless, the end result is essentially the same with a very empty Sith Academy on their homeworld and the Sith Triumvirate restarting the Forever War against the Jedi in Revan's absence.
  • League of Legends: One of Swain's taunts has him warn Kindred that this could happen in Noxus should they take him.
  • In Mass Effect 2, Shepard kills the vast majority (including the leadership) of Omega Station's Blue Suns, Eclipse, and Blood Pack — the station's three major crime syndicates — to save Garrus from them. Come Mass Effect 3: Omega, it is revealed by Aria that their deaths triggered a massive power struggle by the lesser gangs. Eventually, a fourth group called the Talons came out the victor, with a new morally-respectable leader in Nyreen Kandros.
  • Mortal Kombat X: Word of God confirms that several factions in Outworld are at war with one another in an effort to fill the void left by Shao Kahn's defeat in the previous game; while new character Kotal Kahn is currently taking his place as Emperor, it's been confirmed that he won't be Emperor for the entire game.
    • In the events leading up to the game by way of the Mortal Kombat X comic series, Mileena had actually become the Kahnum of Outworld, as was her place, but her tyrannical rule was loathed by the citizens of Outworld, partly because she was incompetent in ruling it. So Kotal Kahn, one of her advisers, took advantage of the situation by overthrowing Mileena, but she then instigates a rebellion in a bid to retake her throne, tearing the realm apart. The civil war ends with Mileena biting the dust, but her arcade ending reveals that she found an entire army of Mileena clones made by Shang Tsung that she can control telepathically. She uses them to reclaim Outworld.
    • In the end of the story mode, with Quan Chi dead and Shinnok depowered so severely that eventually he's reduced to a living head by a corrupted Raiden, the Netherrealm falls into chaos with demons fighting amongst one another for dominion over the realm. Liu Kang's Arcade ending reveals that he beat the Oni into submission, and he and Kitana end up taking the throne by becoming the Netherrealm's co-rulers, since any hopes of returning to the living world are gone.
  • Persona 5 Royal: After the Phantom Thieves defeat Yaldabaoth his power and control over the collective unconscious are usurped by Maruki. As the new god of control he also merges the cognitive world with the real one and makes decisions for all of humanity albeit for completely benevolent motivations.
    • In the sequel, EMMA attempts to do the same thing believing that humanity wants someone to make their decisions for them.
  • In the Quake II manual, it is stated that your final objective is assassinating the Strogg Makron to trigger one of these. About a third through Quake IV, you encounter a new Makron, so presumably, the interregnum was shorter than Earth hoped.
  • In the Resident Evil universe, the Umbrella corporation is exposed for their biological experiments that turned Raccoon City into a zombie filled nightmare, which forced the United States government to completely annhilate the city so the virus outbreak did not spread any further. Umbrella was pretty much finished, but their leftover experiments and company secrets were leaked and fell into the hands of the black market and rival companies. This causes the events of later games that the protagonists have to deal with. The fall of Umbrella was orchestrated by Wesker behind the scenes, which allowed him to get data on the Las Plagas and Uroboros projects years later.
  • Due to the 3rd Street Saints being broken up after the events of Saints Row, Ultor and several new gangs came out of the woodwork to fill in the void that the Saints left behind. You spend most of Saints Row 2 taking the city back.
  • This is how Saika Magoichi's revenge (for the razing of the Saika village) goes horribly wrong in his Samurai Warriors 2 story; after he shoots and kills Oda Nobunaga, he comes across a number of peasants beset by raiders who've found out already that Nobunaga is gone; later Fuuma Kotarou reveals that he released the news specifically to accelerate/cause the power vacuum that Nobunaga had been preventing.
  • Sengoku Basara had this happen twice: Oda Nobunaga's death at the hands of Akechi Mitsuhide led to the rise of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, whose death at the hands of Tokugawa Ieyasu led to the rise of Ishida Mitsunari.
  • Shaun White Skateboarding discusses this and subverts it in the ending. Resistance leader Jonah brags that he will take control in the Ministry's absence and calls you a bunch of idiots for falling for it... before joking that he was kidding and everything's fine.
  • This is a recurring theme in Spider-Man (PS4), and one that ties into Spider-Man's famous motto. After bringing down Wilson "The Kingpin" Fisk in the game's Action Prologue, Spidey feels he's due for some much needed R&R to focus on his work and social life. But (as predicted by J. Jonah Jameson on his podcast) with Kingpin gone, all the low-level thugs who had to pay up to him are now free to act on their own, leading to a rise in street crime, while other criminal organizations attempt to move in and establish themselves in Kingpin's place. In particular, a budding supervillain with terrorist ambitions was just waiting for Fisk's empire to crumble to make his move, and the resultant chaos brought by this new threat makes Spider-Man almost nostalgic for Kingpin's orderly control. And once that villain is taken care of, another supervillain with similar goals steps in to pick up where the first one left off, and things escalate from there. The City That Never Sleeps DLC campaigns continue with this theme, as with the main game's villains taken care of and Kingpin's criminal empire still in decline, the Maggia have started to make a comeback in Manhattan.
  • StarCraft
    • The game ends with the Zerg overmind defeated at last. Then, in Brood War, all the factions get pulled into a struggle between Kerrigan and the cerebrates to replace it.
    • After the Confederacy is overthrown by Arcturus Mengsk, he actually created a power vacuum so he can build himself an empire, which is as bad as the former.
  • Mr. X in Streets of Rage leads The Syndicate and overtakes the city in three games. By the third game, he's reduced to being a Brain in a Jar and his final defeat leaves him Deader than Dead. The fourth game takes place ten years later and the city is once again overtaken by a new Syndicate since Mr. X is no longer running things. The new leaders are Mr. X's children, Mr. and Ms. Y.
  • In Valis II, Megas steps into the power vacuum created by the death of Rogles.
  • Much of the Undead plotline in Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne follows Arthas, Sylvanas, and the Dreadlords fighting over who controls the Scourge after the Burning Legion was defeated.
  • World of Warcraft

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  • Happens off camera in The Great Nerf War between the 2nd and 3rd Season after Florentine kills Commander Nhine in the Season 2 final and is addressed by Florentine in the beginning of Season 3.

    Western Animation 
  • One Adventure Time episode had Finn defend a village of house people from an obnoxious green ogre and teach him how to feel empathy. Unfortunately, with the ogre out of the way, their much worse predators called "Why-Wolves" (like werewolves, except more intelligent and inquisitive) terrorize the villagers thanks to the ogre not releasing "Obnoxygen", which is lethal to them.
  • In Ben 10: Ultimate Alien, Charmcaster managed to overthrow the tyrant Adwaita at some point. Unfortunately, her fellow rebels immediately waged war among themselves in a bid to take over.
  • The future of the Legion of Super Heroes (2006) second season was a peaceful utopia thanks to the Legion having defeated all evil and brought peace. When a new evil finally did show up in the form of Imperiex, no-one was prepared and he easily conquered most of the universe.
  • Carmen Sandiego: The leadership of V.I.L.E. spend most of Season 2 trying to fill the empty seat on their committee left by Shadow-san's defection, with many candidates trying to earn the position but failing due to Team Carmen's actions. Ultimately, Roundabout (V.I.L.E.'s Double Agent in British intelligence) proves himself the most efficient and worthy of the role, and is promoted in the Season 2 finale. After his public exposure in the Season 3 finale, the others punish him by locking him away, leaving the fifth seat empty again until the Season 4 finale when a Brainwashed and Crazy Carmen is appointed to it.
  • This is the case in Season 3 of Castlevania. Due to Dracula's death at the end of Season 2, the vampire nation has splintered into various factions fighting for territory, while the Night Creatures are rampaging without anyone to lead them. The main goal of Carmilla and her sisters is to take advantage of this chaos to conquer Eastern Europe and create an empire.
  • In one episode of The Fairly OddParents!, Vicky loses her job as Timmy's babysitter only for Timmy's Too Dumb to Live parents to replace her with Gary and Betty, who are just so annoying Timmy would rather endure Vicky.
  • An example presented as history, in He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Keldor's original defeat led to a war called the Great Unrest, where several warlords formed a loose alliance in an attempt to overthrow the fledgling kingdom. Exactly how it ended is not revealed, but presumably, there was a decisive victory for the royal army.
  • Jackie Chan Adventures:
    • With the defeat of Shendu and his return to a helpless statue, everything seems fine, until Jade blows Shendu to slag with the Dragon talisman. At this point Uncle (who of course blames Jackie) says that since Shendu has been destroyed a new, stronger darkness can take his place. Cue Shendu's extended family!
    • Averted come the end of Season 3. Shendu is revived into a physical form, but immediately has his 12 talismans taken away, reducing him back to his harmless statue form. The talismans and he are then locked behind a vault in Section 13. While Shendu is technically still on the board, the fourth season introduces Tarakudo, and the fifth season brings in Shendu's Kid from the Future. Shendu himself isn't really a player again until the Grand Finale, where he's released deliberately to fight his son.
  • In Justice League, when Darkseid was killed by Superman by leaving him to die in Brainiac's exploding asteroid base, a civil-war erupted in Apokolips between Granny Goodness' forces and those of Virman Vundabar. This was deliberately maintained for several seasons by the Justice League to prevent a united Apokolips from threatening Earth. This came to a halt when Tala resurrected Darkseid. When Darkseid returned to Apokolips, they ended the war right then and there.
  • In the final season of The Legend of Korra, following the brutal assassination of the corrupt Earth Queen Hou-Ting by the Red Lotus, the Earth Kingdom has been left in anarchy, with it eventually consolidated under Kuvira, who proves to be an even more brutal dictator. Zaheer, the one who killed the Queen, is incredibly guilt-ridden over the fact that his attempt to free the Earth Kingdom of oppressive leadership only caused it to fall under even worse oppression.
  • In Rick and Morty, it's revealed that Rick killing the Council of Ricks resulted in this in the Citadel, with the citizens holding a Presidental election for a new leader. The winner of the election is Candidate Morty, who turns out to be Evil Morty, allowing him to use his position to further his plan to escape the Central Finite Curve.
  • Happens in The Spectacular Spider-Man after a three-way gang war manages to wipe out the criminal empires of Tombstone, Silvermane, Dr. Octopus and Hammerhead. The vacuum is quickly taken over by the Green Goblin, who had helped manipulate events for this purpose. This was even pointed out by Captain Stacy, who noted that "Nature abhors a vacuum."
  • After Shredder died in the 2000s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, our shelled heroes had to contend with a literal city at war in the second season, with The Mafia, the Foot Clan, and the Purple Dragons fighting to take control of Shredder's empire. In that case, Shredder's adopted daughter, Karai, became the new Shredder. In Season 4, the series was left with no central villain since the Utrom Shredder, Ch'rell, had been exiled to a frozen asteroid by the end of the third season finale. This left the turtles free to take part in a variety of adventures in this Shredder-less fourth season. (Karai did take up Shredder's mantle, but was defeated quite decisively in a duel with Leonardo.) The power vacuum was filled again in the fifth season when the ancient Demon Shredder was resurrected again. Note that Leonardo mentions this trope almost word for word to justify aiding the leader of a former enemy faction just to get some order back in the city.
  • Transformers: Animated actually begins with Megatron apparently dying at the hands of Optimus Prime (with a little help from Starscream) and Starscream appointing himself leader... just before everyone else abandons ship as they were about to crash. Starscream later gets Lugnut and Blitzwing on his side, but when Megatron gets back, he's pretty pissed and takes revenge on the usurper. The other Decepticons are quick to re-affirm their loyalty to Megatron. Though Lugnut's loyalty never wavered to begin with. He continued to believe that Megatron was still alive, which actually was the main cause behind Megatron's return.
  • What If…? (2021): In the second episode's timeline, Thanos being talked into a Heel–Face Turn by T'Challa left a power vacuum in the galactic underworld that the Collector ended up filling, including recruiting the Black Order as enforcers.