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My Way or the Highway

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And now I'll tell you how high you have to jump

Now listen up, Mr. Pink. There's two ways you can go on this job: my way or the highway. Now what's it gonna be, Mr. Pink?
Joe, Reservoir Dogs

A character is offered an uncomfortable, non-negotiable choice that boils down to two options:

  • Agree or conform with the other party's choice of action without question, or;
  • Get tossed aside and abandoned while the other party continues their choice of action anyway.

Unlike The Easy Way or the Hard Way, there is no threat of coercion or violence; it may instead carry an implication that the person being offered this choice is expendable.

The favored Catchphrase of the Control Freak, but may also be used by an older character to teach discipline, such as from a parent to their child (i.e. "My House, My Rules") or from a drill sergeant to a fresh recruit.



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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water, it's revealed that Jean's inventions fail not because he's a bad inventor (he's excellent otherwise, as it's impressive what he has accomplished on his own), but because he's sometimes staunchly against receiving feedback from people that can help him. He eventually realizes that this will get him nowhere and accepts Hanson's input.

    Comic Books 
  • In an Avengers Annual, Wonder Man, while shooting a film, actually can't remember this line, ruining a take.
    "We can do this my way or... um... you can hit the road!"
  • In Superman comics:
    • In Kryptonite Nevermore, Morgan Edge makes clear that Clark Kent will do what his boss says if he wants to keep working for him.
      Clark Kent: But... this is an attack! A pretty heavy one! I'm Superman's friend! I can't!
      Mr. Edge: You can... if you like your job! Clear, Kent?
    • Subverted in Who Took the Super out of Superman?. Once again, Morgan tries to throw his weight around, but for once Clark isn't getting it:
      Morgan Edge: No backtalk, Kent! I call the shots around here and when I decide I need a man to do a report from Chile that man goes to Chile— hear me talking, Kent?
      Clark Kent: But, Mr.Edge, I...
      Morgan Edge: I don't care what you've got going next week—
      Clark Kent: But...
      Morgan Edge: I suggest you travel light!
      Clark Kent: Hold your flapping mouth, you barrel of overpriced lard! You might treat your other employees like cattle... But the cattle train stops right here!
    • In Who is Superwoman?, Alura In-Ze bluntly tells her chief of security Thara Ak-Var she'll do what Alura says or she will not be her chief of security for much longer.

    Fan Works 
  • In Pokémon Reset Bloodlines, Aurora thinks Belladonna is giving her this when she decides to kill Aurora's father Tokiomi for abandoning her. Aurora has serious Extreme Doormat issues and believes that speaking up when she doesn't want to do something is an act of betrayal to her loved ones. To her credit, Belladonna seems to be aware of this and always tries to make sure Aurora knows she does have a say in the matter, but unfortunately she doesn't pressure enough and Aurora tends to keep quiet out of fear of being left alone.


    Film - Live Action 
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000: Crow T. Robot's "Let's have a Patrick Swayze Christmas" features the line, "It's my way or the highway this Christmas at my bar-har-haaaaar."
  • A common accusation of Bruce Wayne's Batman by Dick Grayson of Batman & Robin: "It's your way or the highway!"
  • The Matrix: Switch says this to Neo. There is then a cutaway to the empty, rain soaked road outside the car. Subverted when Neo chooses the highway, and Trinity has to persuade him to stay.
  • In The Pacifier, Vin Diesel's line was "We do things my way. No highway option".
  • Used in Reservoir Dogs by Lawrence Tierny's character:
    Joe: Here are your names: Mr Brown, Mr White, Mr Blonde, Mr Blue, Mr Orange, and Mr Pink.
    Mr Pink: Why am I Mr Pink?
    Joe: 'Cause you're a faggot, alright!
    (Mr Pink and Joe argue about the name for a while)
    Joe: Now listen up, Mr Pink. There's two ways you can go on this job: my way or the highway. Now what's it gonna be, Mr Pink?

  • In Anne of Green Gables, Marilla is very matter-of-fact in laying down the rules on taking Anne into Green Gables. After listening to Anne's explanation of why she is not in the habit of folding her clothes before going to bed, she plainly retorts: "You'll have to remember a little better if you stay here"; then, when Anne tells her she does not say her prayers before going to bed and gives a thorough explanation of why, Marilla tells her "You must say your prayers while you are under my roof, Anne" without further justification.
  • In The Disaster Artist, this is Tommy Wiseau's overarching modus operandi, both on and off the job.
  • In the Warrior Cats book Veil of Shadows, a Control Freak impostor has taken over Bramblestar's body and has taken one rule of the warrior code to heart above all others, that "the word of the Clan leader is the warrior code". He finally gives an ultimatum in this book: that any cat who doesn't like it can leave the Clan.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the third season of The Walking Dead, the normally mellow and friendly Rick passes the Despair Event Horizon after some... stuff and things and tells the rest of the group that their camp is not a democracy anymore and anyone that's not happy is free to leave.
  • A variation is used in The Bernie Mac Show; when Vanesa, Bernie's oldest niece, runs away from his home, he catches her in the bus headed from L.A. to Chicago and when he asks her why she's on the bus, she responds: "you're always telling us, 'it's my way or the highway,' so you you know what? I'm choosing the highway."
  • Used for Black Comedy in Batwoman (2019). After Kate Kane murders a particularly vile criminal in a fit of rage, her evil sister Alice blackmails her into helping rescue one of her minions from Arkham Asylum. Kate agrees on condition she do things her way. Alice points out that as Kate's way involved strangling a man until he choked to death in his own blood, she'd like nothing more!

  • In the chorus for the Limp Bizkit song "My Way," singer Fred Durst insists to do things his way—his way "or the highway."

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Savio Vega's Catchphrase, especially in IWA Puerto Rico, of which was a part owner and World Wrestling League, where he was director of wrestling operations.

    Video Games 
  • In Superdimension Neptune VS Sega Hard Girls, Segami's motivation begins and ends with stopping the CPUs and Sega Hard Girls from fighting. However, due to her status as an Amnesiac Hero, she usually can't come up with a better explanation than "We have them stop from fighting because I say so", and she completely refuses to accept any other methods.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • Swedish expression "Management by Perkele" stems from this. It refers to Finnish management mentality ("either you do this or else"), which contrasts with Swedes' more discussion-oriented decision-making.
  • The French Foreign Legion's unofficial motto is "march or die", do as you're told or get out.
  • One of the major points in both the Android vs iOS and the PC vs. Console debates is that Android and PC both run on much more open systems
    • On a PC, if you don't like a particular piece of software, up to and including the operating system itself, you can change it, whereas you can't change a console's operating system note , and you often can't install other programs than what it comes pre-packaged with, meaning it's the manufacturer's way, or the highway of turning in your entire console
    • Android, likewise, is a far more open system than iOS - allowing for third-party developed applications and for downloads outside its designated stores.


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