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I Can Rule Alone

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"Why do I need you, Jerec, when I can take all the power of the Valley myself?"

A subversion of We Can Rule Together. The hero joins the villains, but then one side betrays the other because they had no intention of sharing power in the first place. It tends to manifest in one of three ways.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Dragon Ball Super: During the Future Trunks Saga, Zamasu, declaring all mortals are evil, decides to embark on a crusade to wipe them all out in Future Trunks' timeline, teaming up with the like-minded Goku Black (who happens to be an alternate version of himself who stole Goku's body) to do so. In addition to doing this, the Evil Duo also wipe out all the gods in that timeline on the grounds that "one god is all the cosmos needs."

    Comic Books 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 12: Harth Fray comes to the present day to conquer the past, enlisting the help of numerous demons, including a resurrected Mayor Wilkins. When Illyria sacrifices herself to force most of them into a portal to a hell dimension, Wilkins remarks it works in their favor, as that means there's much less to share after they Take Over the World. Harth agrees with his point... and promptly chops his head off.
    Harth: The future's mine, you idiot! You think I'm going to share it?
  • The Incredible Hulk (1962): In the final issue, the Metal Master asks the Hulk to take over the world with him. Hulk seriously considers it for a moment... then decides he'd much rather just do it himself. The Metal Master turning on him seems to put any thought of world-ruling out of the Hulk's mind.

    Fan Works 
  • In The Ones Who Rebuild Us, Kylo Ren tries to lure Rey to the Dark Side so that he can rebuild his power after she killed Snoke and the Resistance dismantled the First Order. Rey, who had been influenced by the darkness while hunting him down, asks why she has to share the power with him and attacks.
    Kylo: It can be ours. We’re not limited, not anymore. All its power is ours. We can make it what we want.
    Rey: Ours?
    Kylo: Whatever we want.
    Rey: (smirks evilly) Why would I include you?

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe
    • Guardians of the Galaxy (2014): Ronan spends most of the movie trying to retrieve the Orb for Thanos in exchange for the latter destroying Xandar for him. However, when Ronan realizes that the Orb contains an Infinity Stone, he decides to keep it and destroy Xandar himself, and destroy Thanos as well for good measure. In this case, it wasn't so much Thanos and Ronan ruling together as having a bargain that Ronan decides he no longer needs to bother with.
    • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: Ego wants Peter to join him in his Assimilation Plot. When Peter refuses, Ego declares he can just use Peter as a living battery for a few thousand years and see if he changes his mind after that.
  • Mega Monster Battle: Ultra Galaxy Legends: An Alien Zarab frees Ultraman Belial from his prison and gives him back his Giga Battle Nizer only asking to form a partnership to rule the universe as equals, Belial kills him on the spot for it while stating that the universe will only be his to take.
  • Star Wars
    • While Anakin does offer to make Padmé his Empress in Revenge of the Sith, with his powers and her lack thereof, it's pretty obvious who'd have been doing all the real ruling if she'd accepted his offer, and he also goes so far as to tell her about his plans to overthrow his master Palpatine and rule the galaxy himself. The movie takes this trope to extremes, as Emperor Palpatine is well aware of his apprentice's ambitions and even boasts to Yoda that he's certain Darth Vader will one day be even more powerful than himself.
    • About fifty years later in The Last Jedi, Anakin's grandson Kylo Ren ends up defaulting to this after Rey turns down his We Can Rule Together offer for the second time. After their falling out and her departure, he then has to deal with General Hux, who was his political equal in the chain of command while Snoke was still alive and doesn't want to take orders from him. One Force-Choke later (to remind Hux who's got all the real power now that Snoke is dead), Kylo Ren has completely secured his Klingon Promotion and is the First Order's new Supreme Leader.
  • After he discovers the conspiracy in They Live!, Nada is offered two chances to join the aliens. However both times they either don't mean it, or it's not really plausible. The two aliens disguised as cops are only making the offer to get Nada to a quiet place where they can kill him, and Holly offering it at the end would never work out, since at this point Nada had already killed dozens of aliens and would obviously be killed in retaliation.
  • In X-Men: First Class, Magneto agreed with everything Sebastian Shaw said. Shaw's having killed his mother, however, just absolutely killed Shaw's suggestion that they ought to ally with each other.

  • Quite common in Star Wars. In fact, this is more or less the modus operandi for Sith in general in the series, given that betraying and killing their masters is built into their dogma. The Rule of Two allows for a lot of Dark Jedi, even Dark Jedi with a bit of Sith training, but only two true Sith, and of those two, if the apprentice doesn't kill the master, the master will try to kill the apprentice. This is assumed from the start of pretty much every apprenticeship - the student will hold off on killing the master until enough has been taught or the master looks too weak, and the master will refrain from killing the apprentice until the apprentice becomes worryingly powerful, or until they've done all the errands the master wants, or until a more promising apprentice has been found and taken well into hand. The whole point behind the Rule of Two was to harness this natural Sith tendency for betrayal into something that would still strengthen the Order (by ensuring two weaker apprentices can't gang up on their master, so when the betrayal comes, only the best Sith survives) instead of causing it to destroy itself periodically.
    • In the novelization of Revenge of the Sith, Anakin starts plotting to overthrow Palpatine the moment he turns to the dark side. However, he doesn't get a chance to put his plans into action.
    • The novelization of Return of the Jedi also indicates that while Luke was tempted to kill Darth Vader and take his father's place at Emperor Palpatine's side as offered, he was already feeling the further temptation to kill the Emperor too and take everything for himself. It helps that Luke already wanted to kill Palpatine even before he started to be tempted by The Dark Side.
    • Played with in Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor. Luke is set up as Palpatine's heir apparent and pretends to be the Emperor to execute a mass Heel–Face Turn from the Imperial soldiers. It doesn't work out. (Hint: That black armor isn't paint!)
    • In the Star Wars novel Darth Plagueis, this was part of Sidious' "The Reason You Suck" Speech towards Plagueis while the former is killing the latter with Force Lightning; their original plan was that, after Sidious was elected Supreme Chancellor of the Republic, he would promote Plagueis to co-chancellor, and form a Big Bad Duumvirate.
    • Legacy has the Sith abandon the Rule of Two for the Rule of One - that 'one' being the Sith as a whole, meaning that there are a lot of them and they actually can work together, if uneasily. Until Sith Emperor Darth Krayt is severely wounded and left for dead by the heroes. Darth Wyyrlok, who'd never before hinted at the ambition to usurp Krayt, found him clinging to life...and decided at that moment to kill him off and seize control of the empire.
    • In the Darth Bane books, Bane's problem was that his apprentice Zannah seemed willing to wait for him to die of old age so she could claim his rank without fighting. If they did not fight to the death, how would they know who had truly been the strongest? Bane acknowledges that waiting for an enemy to grow weak is a valid and normally wise strategy, but this was a special case because it was essential for Zannah to be stronger than him once she became the Sith Lord, otherwise the Sith Order would stagnate.
    • In Fate of the Jedi, and its Lost Tribe of the Sith tie-in, the aforementioned tribe seems to avert this. In the series proper, when their High Lord Taalon gets cut open from behind by Vestara, she has to get out of Dodge, to avoid being killed in revenge... Also, earlier, a Sith ship's captain and entire crew just let themselves get executed as a scapegoat, 'for the good of the tribe'.
  • The Stainless Steel Rat is seeking to depose a planetary dictator by fair means or foul in The Stainless Steel Rat for President. At one stage the dictator meets with Jim DiGriz in private and suggests We Can Rule Together — he'll run the government, DiGriz will run the opposition, and they'll quietly eliminate anyone who's a real threat. DiGriz refuses outright because he believes in democracy and thinks the dictator is a total scumbag. The dictator rejects this as all politicians are out for themselves. Fine, says DiGriz, and goes on a spiel about how he wants all the goodies for himself, "All the power, the money, the women" causing the dictator to shed Manly Tears. "You remind me of myself when I was young." The truth is that DiGriz is doing all this for fun, so he fakes his death at the end to get out of running the planet.
  • Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone: During their confrontation at the end of the series, Stephen tells Anne that they can divide the power of the faneways between them and rule as King and Queen. Anne agrees that they could, but since she's already has a lot more power than him, she might as well just rip his from him and rule alone.
  • Malazan Book of the Fallen: While there seem to have been no deals made between Scabandari Bloodeye and Silchas Ruin regarding what they would do after conquering the new world they came to, Scabandari reasons that in due time there would be conflict between their people. As he puts it: "One must rule. Two cannot." Nothing Personal, though. Silchas surely would enjoy eternal imprisonment.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Subverted in Doctor Who: In "Doomsday", the Cybermen offer an alliance to the Daleks. The Daleks completely refuse to consider the possibility, deciding the Cybermen are useless even as pawns.

    Video Games 
  • Baldurs Gate 3:
    • In Act 3, you encounter Lord Enver Gortash, one of the ringleaders of the Cult of the Absolute who's about to seize political control over Baldur's Gate, and offers you a place by his side if you eliminate his treacherous co-conspirator. While a good-aligned player can refuse him for the obvious reason of him being evil, an evil-aligned player can also backstab him by reasoning that they'd rather just rule alone. Furthermore, Gortash himself will pull this on you if you fail his Secret Test of Character after deciding to ally with him; if you cave into his intimidation and don't conduct yourself as an equal, he declares he has no further use for you and attacks.
    • This was also the reason behind the Dark Urge's downfall. As one of the Cult of the Absolute's original founders, they'd worked with Gortash to guard against the Chronic Backstabbing Disorder that constantly undid the plans of the Dead Three's followers. Unfortunately for them, fellow Bhaalist Orin the Red didn't feel the same way, and she betrayed the Dark Urge (and was transparently plotting to do the same to Gortash) simply because she wanted to be the only one in charge.
  • Star Wars videogames (see also Star Wars under Literature):
    • Kyle Katarn in the dark side ending for Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II, as mentioned above.
    • Likewise in Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy's Dark Side ending, Jaden Korr will kill Tavion and take the Scepter of Ragnos for themself. It's not a case of betrayal; (s)he declares his/her intentions clearly after falling to the Dark Side, so the player fights most of the same battles either way.
    • The Force Unleashed has Jedi Master Shaak Ti tell Starkiller, "The Sith always betray one another. But I'm sure you'll learn that soon enough." And indeed, not long after that Vader turns on his secret apprentice.
    • In the Revenge of the Sith videogame, one of the endings has Anakin/Vader killing Obi-Wan on Mustafar, then subsequently killing Palpatine to take control of the Empire.
  • A cutscene in Samurai Warriors 2 (and Empires) shows Akechi thinking exactly this as he initializes the Incident at Honnoj, turning on his former master, Oda Nobunaga. His expanded reasoning is that he initially agreed to follow Nobunaga because he believed him able to put an end to these war-torn times... but then, watching the damage caused by Nobunaga's armies, he changed his mind. "Fuck that," he said "I'll just knock him off and become a lord myself. Then I'll bring peace to these troubled times." And so he did. 'cept for the 'bring peace to these troubled times' bit, maybe.
  • In the WorldCorp endgame for The Nameless Mod, Trestkon can elect to ban Scara before he completes the final objective.
  • In the bad ending of Darkwatch, after defeating Cassidy and helping Tala secure ultimate power, Jericho Cross rips Tala's jugular open and goes on to presumably take over the Wild West.
  • In The Suffering: Ties That Bind, Blackmore encourages Torque to kill Jordan, despite the fact that she's his most powerful ally and the two have a We Can Rule Together moment in the game's evil ending if you ignore him and spare her. Then again, this may simply be because Blackmore has zero impulse control.
  • The Neverhood game allows you to choose this trope as one of its endings. Either you kick out the villain and take the crown for yourself, or rescue the legitimate king.
  • In Ultima Underworld II, Mors Gotha presents the We Can Rule Together offer to the Avatar. However, it's merely a ruse to get you to hand over a weapon; if you accept, she tells you that power was never meant to be shared, and proceeds to attack you.
  • Inverted and subverted in Dawn of War where Sindri is almost backstabbed by Brother-Librarian Isador for this reason but is quite ready for the attempt and betrays Isador first.
  • Near the end of Dragon Quest, the Dragonlord gives you the standard We Can Rule Together offer. If you accept it, he tells you "Take a long, long rest." Cue the red text...
    • Dragon Quest Builders shows the Dragonlord did make good on his promise to give half the world to the Fallen Hero. You find him on the throne of the tiny keep known as Half The World.
  • One of the possible ending choices in Alpha Protocol, depending on the choices you make in the game. Depending on the contacts you made throughout you have varying levels of success with the aftermath - up to and including changing the entire course of global politics.
  • The first Streets of Rage has Mr. X posit the usual "join me and we can rule this town" spiel. Accepting it only serves to toss you back two stages. Two-player, however, works differently; both players can answer the question. If both answers are the same, it's akin to the single-player answers; if both players answer differently, however, a battle between the two players initiates. If the player who agreed to join Mr. X wins, the question is posited again; this time, you can say "no" and invoke this trope. The final boss with Mr. X begins as usual, but winning gives an exclusive "bad ending" showing you in charge of the X Syndicate.
  • In the original Ogre Battle, if you win with a low reputation, you take the throne of Zenobia by force. This is generally a Downer Ending, though one such ending is potentially less of a downer from your perspective. If you have a low alignment but a good Charisma, you build a Black Empire using dark magic.
  • You can pull this at the end of Singularity, where you can just vent both Barisov and Demichev rather than go with either of their options. This leads to the USSR collapsing, Katorga-12 blowing up, E99 mutants invading East Russia and you becoming supreme dictator of the United States of America.
    • Demichev has a global empire in which he's offering you a high-level position if you play ball. The ending implies you eventually pull this on him anyway. Barisov is the one not offering you anything, he's just playing to your conscience.
  • In Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines, you can certainly TRY this by killing LaCroix and opening the Ankharan Sarcophagus yourself. Only it doesn't work at all like you had hoped. There's a reason you're repeatedly cautioned in-game not to open it.
  • This is the fourth possible ending in Fallout: New Vegas and can be either good or bad depending upon your actions throughout the game. The more people you help the smoother the transition of power becomes in the ending montage and the people are more likely to accept you as their new ruler.
  • In Dark Messiah, this is one of Sareth's options. Xana will actually advise you to do this instead of freeing the Demon Sovereign since by that point, she'd rather follow your lead than his. Or she just finds you more manipulable.
  • In World of Warcraft, this was the ultimate fate of Ner'zhul, Arthas took up the throne of the Lich King and killed the last of his humanity. Ner'zhul intended for the two to rule as two minds in one body, Arthas didn't feel like sharing the throne and killed him too, merging their personalities with Arthas's as the dominant one.
  • In Deus Ex, this basically sums up Majestic-12's intentions. As an offshoot of the Illuminati, its main leaders in Bob Page and Walton Simmons basically intend to usurp power to become the ultimate MegaCorp over all other corporations and secret organizations around the world that have previously been working together to hold global domination via their Gray Death.
  • In Shadow the Hedgehog, Black Doom wants Shadow to help him take control over the Earth, essentially serving as his minion. One of eleven possible endings allows Shadow to betray Black Doom at the last second and state that, as the Ultimate Lifeform, he is going to conquer the universe himself.
  • In a Genocide run of Undertale, Flowey seems perfectly happy to rule together with you even if he's subordinate. In fact, towards the end, he states he wouldn't mind just living a peaceful life with you and not even ruling at all. When you make it clear that your objective is to kill everything, he realizes that he's no exception, so he makes a very brief Heel–Face Turn and tries to warn Asgore about you, and tries to rejoin you when that fails, insisting he can be useful to you. It takes you eight stabs to reduce his physical body to dust.
  • Dm C Devil May Cry: After defeating Mundus, Vergil reveals that he had planned all along to take Mundus' place as ruler of the world, insisting that Humans Are Flawed and need to be protected from themselves. While he originally planned to rule alongside his brother, when Dante adamantly refuses to do so, Vergil straight-up tells Dante to stand aside so he can rule alone. Cue the Final Boss.


    Western Animation 
  • Used in an episode of The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy: After Eris slips up during her We Can Rule Together speech to Mandy, and says, "You'll be the second most powerful person on Earth," Mandy declines, saying only she can be the most powerful.
  • In Spider-Man: The Animated Series, Red Skull turns his son into a creature of immense power, Electro, and then proceeds to expand on how he is now going to conquer the world with Electro by his side. Electro asks why he should stand by anybody's side when he is the one with all the power, zaps his surprisingly unsavvy daddy, and takes off to claim the world for himself. Except the Skull is Crazy-Prepared enough to have a plan in the event of such a betrayal.
  • In the bad ending of the El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera special "The Good, The Bad, and the Tigre", El Tigre accepts the Big Bad Sartana's We Can Rule Together offer, only to betray her alongside her grandson Django. El Tigre then betrays Django and takes control of the world alongside his Childhood Friend Romance Frida.
  • Used in an episode of Disney's Adventures of the Gummi Bears, when Duke Igthorne makes the mistake of putting Toadwart, his subservient dwarf ogre sidekick, into a suit of magic armor...
  • BIONICLE: Web of Shadows: The Visorak King Sidorak has long offered to share his throne with his second-in-command Roodaka in the form of Unholy Matrimony. She bided her time to take him up on it, however, until she manipulated things in her favor; soon after which she said this and left him to die fighting a very strong, very angry enemy beast. (Unfortunately for her, the puppet general she'd set up flipped the script and gave Sidorak's armies an out, permitting them to reject her rule and abandon her for her treachery. Surprisingly, she seemed much more willing to engage in We Can Rule Together with him, or at least with him as her subordinate.)
    • Big Bad Makuta Teridax used his Brotherhood to complete his grand plan to seize power, committing Grand Theft Me on the resident Physical God and basically becoming one with the entire known world (revealed to be a truly gigantic robot), allowing him to control everything inside of it and then use it to conquer other planets. The moment this hijacking works out (and even a bit before that) he begins killing off his own species, as he believed the Makuta were the only ones with the knowledge and power required to execute "The Plan" (and this was the second purge he carried out; the first was the one that weeded out the Makuta who refused to follow him and "The Plan" in the first place). While the original plan was for the rest of the Brotherhood to rule alongside their leader, only a few of them even thought of the possibility that they could be betrayed (and the two that did ultimately became The Starscream to try and stop it, only to fail and die, one of them even trying to warn the others of their upcoming betrayal before being killed). Since their entire motivation for overthrowing the Great Spirit in the first place was pride and jealousy at being eternally below him on the ladder of power, of course Teridax didn't trust any one of them to not try and do it against him.
  • A variation in the Jonny Quest original series story "The Riddle of the Gold": the Maharaja tells Dr. Zinn's agent that soon they'll be the richest, most powerful men in the world. The agent poisons the Maharaja and declares, "There is room for only one richest, most powerful man in the world ... and he is Dr. Zinn." The agent is NOT Zinn in disguise. That's loyalty.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic


Video Example(s):


Ultraman Belial kills Zarab

After freeing Ultraman Belial and giving him back his signature weapon, an Alien Zarab offers to join forces with him so they both can rule the Universe, Belial has other plans and kills him on the spot.

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Example of:

Main / ICanRuleAlone

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