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Posthumous Villain Victory

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"With his last act of cruelty...the Joker had tainted us all with compromise and deception. I suppose he had the last laugh after all."

A Posthumous Villain Victory applies to when a villain dies but still manages to achieve their goals. It could be a small objective or a big one, or maybe it was just part of a bigger plan. Regardless, they've managed to win from beyond the grave. This does not apply to when a villain dies just after they got what they wanted, nor does it apply to when the villain completes their plan while they are still alive. They have to be totally dead and yet still succeed.

Sub-Trope to The Bad Guy Wins, Pyrrhic Victory, and Karma Houdini. This may involve You Are Too Late, or be the result of a Thanatos Gambit or Xanatos Gambit. Can sometimes come with the revelation that the villain was Good All Along and that their goal was to save the world instead, but this is usually reserved for Well-Intentioned Extremist types, Anti Villains and Noble Demons. Compare Last Breath Bullet, where the villain is dying or about to lose but gets off one last shot at their foe, Villainous Plan Inertia, where the plan is still going even though the villain has been dealt with, Dead Man's Switch, when the villain has a plan that will go into action if they die, Mutual Kill, where the villain dies but fatally wounds the hero, and You Cannot Kill An Idea, when killing the villain only causes his idea to become more popular. Compare and contrast Pyrrhic Victory where the villain accomplishes their goal and still lives, but the steep price of their victory nullifies any success. Both of these tropes can overlap, especially if the villain's goal is accomplished in a way they would not have wanted.

As this is a Death Trope and sometimes an Ending Trope, unmarked spoilers abound. Beware.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Zigzagged in Episode 56 of Akazukin Chacha. Sure, Soprano did get sent back to the Evil World empty-handed after being beaten by Magical Princess, but during their fight, the Gate to Hell was accidentally opened, and thus Chacha and her friends are forced to give up their Transformation Trinkets to seal it off for good. So even though Soprano didn't beat Magical Princess, in a sense, she still won against her.
  • Death Note: Or rather Posthumous Antagonist Victory in this case. Despite his defeat and subsequent death at the hand of Kira, L is ultimately victorious as his groundwork allowed for his successors Mello and Near to corner Light and make him face justice.
  • Dragon Ball Z: Played with. Dr. Gero is the only villain in the Dragon Ball series to get exactly what he wanted: the death of Son Goku at the hands of (a version of) his creation. But because of the sacrifice of the Elder Kai in the Buu Saga transferring his lifeforce to Goku to revive him, this victory doesn't stick.
  • Durarara!!: Invoked and subverted. Izaya's trap to murder Shizuo fails due to Celty's interference, forcing him to flee while Shizuo comes after him with the intent to kill. Izaya runs into a large group of people and begins to fight Shizuo, despite having no chance of winning. Aoba realizes Izaya is attempting a Xanatos Gambit — if he wins, he's killed his mortal enemy; but if he dies, society will validate his belief that Shizuo is a monster and hate him. However, Vorona shows up to deal the fatal blow herself to protect Shizuo, ruining the plot. Izaya barely gets away and ultimately decides to never return, should he survive his wounds.
  • Fairy Tail:
    • In the Tartaros arc, Erza tries her best to stop the countdown of Face (a system that is meant as a last-ditch move by the magical council to wipe out all magic in the world if a threat to the land gets critical. It was meant to deter invading nations but the demon guild hijacked it for their own ends) before it can activate. However the demon she's fighting, Kyoka, integrates herself with the activation system to make the timer on Face go faster (at the insistence of her leader Mard Geer) while she battles Erza. Erza does manage to defeat and kill Kyoka, but is ultimately too late as the timer reaches zero as intended. This definitely would've been game over for the heroes if not for the arrival of the surviving dragons who destroy the system just in the nick of time.
    • By the end of the manga, Mard Geer's own goal of killing his creator Zeref out of loyalty to Zeref's deepest wish (and who ends up killed by Zeref himself for the Face plan falling through to facilitate that) is fulfilled by the joint efforts of Natsu, who beats Zeref down, and Mavis, who pulls a mutual Taking You with Me with the exhausted Zeref, not that either of them minded. Zeref himself in death gets his secondary goal of taking out Acnologia achieved thanks to the heroes banding together to fight the dragon in the final battle after Zeref himself is dealt with.
  • DIO from JoJo's Bizarre Adventure had his grand scheme almost become this in Stone Ocean. The man himself had been killed during the events of Stardust Crusaders, chronologically taking place in 1988, resulting in his idea of "Heaven" being taken up by his closest disciple, Enrico Pucci, a priest employed in the Green Dolphin Street Prison in Florida until the year 2011. Through a combination of a Soul Jar plant-human hybrid baby, a Magical Incantation Fusion Dance, and the gravitational effects of the New Moon at Cape Canaveral, Pucci manages to transform his Stand into what DIO himself considered the "ultimate Stand", Made In Heaven. Its power allows Pucci to accelerate the flow of time to the point that the universe is recreated to fit his ideal of "Heaven". Doing so allows everyone in the universe to have effectively experienced the events of their entire life, and subconsciously be aware of what their entire life will be from beginning to end, what DIO refers to as "Heaven". As an added bonus of sorts, while his Stand was in the process of speeding up time to the universal reset, Pucci also managed to kill off the final members of the Joestar Bloodline who were considerable threats, Jotaro Kujo and his daughter Jolyne Cujoh, something DIO had desired to do but could not before his death. However, just as the universe was beginning to reach the point of complete reset, Emporio Alniño used the power of the Stand of Pucci's twin brother, Weather Report, to murder him. Because Pucci hadn't accelerated time up to the point where he first got Made In Heaven and thus complete the full reset, the "Heavenly" universe DIO so desired doesn't stick, resulting in it collapsing and then creating another new universe where nobody knows their fate, just like before. What's more, the Joestar Bloodline is brought back to life, albeit with new identities.
  • By the end of Speed Grapher, Suitengu is dead. But he dies the unabashed winner. He successfully torpedoes the entire Japanese economy, kills every last member of the Ropongi club and his main rival goes blind from overuse of his powers. Though he dies, he dies completely victorious in his goals.
  • Trigun: One of the more popular examples has Legato incorporate this into his endgame. He wants to die by Vash's hand to prove Vash's no-killing code fallible and make him suffer, by essentially putting him in a Catch-22 Dilemma: Vash must kill him or his ally, whom Legato has hostage through his mind control power (Meryl and Milly in the anime. Livio in the manga), will be killed otherwise. Ultimately Vash does so as he doesn't have a choice and goes through a Heroic BSoD for a bit from it. He does eventually recover after his friends snap him out of it and remind him taking a life in self-defense when his hand was forced to save another isn't the same as doing it deliberately and he's still a good person at the end of the day that will always continue to strive for the non-lethal solutions. Making Legato's victory a short-lived one.

    Comic Books 
  • Hilda: A variation happens with Trundle/The Mountain King as their ultimate goal is to awaken Amma, the mother of all trolls (himself included), from her slumber beneath Trolberg to reunite her with all her children and doesn't mind dying to make her awaken faster so she'll defend her attacking troll children whom he directed to attack the city in the first place. Despite all that happens Amma ultimately does reunite with the trolls, but rather than after the trolls and humans fight it instead happens because Hilda helps stop the fighting by convincing Erik Ahlberg and the Safety Patrol to stand down and let the trolls get inside the city peacefully, letting Amma communicate with them telepathically and subsequently reuniting with her once a year within Trolberg without conflict with humans.

    Films — Animation 
  • Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker: Joker wound up causing Batman a great deal of pain during their battles, but he upped the ante in this film by kidnapping, drugging, and torturing Tim Drake, aka Robin, to the point he was turned into a twisted "Joker Junior" and spilled all of Batman's secrets to him—all just to spite the Dark Knight. While it does lead to his initial demise, it winds up being the sledgehammer that drives the Bat Family apart, causing Bruce to become cold, distant, and alone, while his old allies are apathetic to him at best and hate his guts at worst. It gets even worse when it's revealed Joker grafted his DNA onto poor Tim to come back from the dead and torment Bruce even more, leading to much more destruction and Bruce nearly dying as a result of him pushing Terry away. Terry does beat him in the end, but it doesn't undo the damage the Clown Prince of Crime has wrought.
  • Subverted in Disney's Beauty and the Beast (1991): Gaston falls to his death, but only after mortally wounding the Beast, who dies in Belle's arms moments later. But Belle's Anguished Declaration of Love for the Beast breaks his spell and restores him to life in human form, denying Gaston his posthumous victory.
  • Hilda and the Mountain King: As with the original story Trundle lets himself be killed as part of his ultimate plan to reunite the trolls with Amma, and while Trolberg is not destroyed as he expected nor does Amma get up, the trolls do reunite with her regardless.
  • Initially Played Straight in Incredibles 2, where Syndrome, though ultimately losing, winds up getting some form of revenge thanks to the events of The Incredibles. It's because of him unleashing the Omnidroid that the titular Parr family wind up being stuffed into a hotel with most of their possessions destroyed by Syndrome's plane crashing into their home, the government continues to push the ban on superheroes (though to be fair, the Parr's attempting to stop The Underminer was the straw that broke the camel's back), and the Super Relocation Agency is permanently disbanded as a result. Fortunately, thanks to the efforts of Winston Deavor, this trope winds up being Subverted and the heroes are able to return to their duties once more.
  • The Lion King II: Simba's Pride: Zira's plan is for Kovu to kill Simba and usurp the throne. After Zira falls to her death in the end, Kovu, along with the rest of the Outsiders have been accepted back to Pride Rock, Kovu is now hitched with Kiara, and will be Simba's successor. In a way, Zira actually succeeded with her plan, just not in the way she thought/intended.
  • Patlabor: The Movie: The main villain, a computer scientist and Eco-Terrorist, is revealed to have sabotaged the new Hyper Operating System for Labors so that sounds at a certain frequency would trigger the Labor using it to go berserk, and then killed himself to make it harder to fix the damage. With the winds of an incoming typhoon likely to create the target frequency from whistling through a new arcology offshore, the Ark, the team is faced with the choice of either dismantling the Ark as the villain wants, or seeing half of Kanto destroyed by rampaging Labors. They choose the former.
  • Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: Subverted. While the Evil Queen winds up falling to her death in her transformed old hag state, it appears she's succeeded in killing Snow White, whom the Dwarves are left mourning over. Fortunately, the Prince wakes her up with True Love's Kiss.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Count Yorga: Both films end with Yorga winning despite being staked.
    • In the first movie, Micheal manages to rescue Donna and kill Yorga when he attempts to choke him but makes the foolish decision to do so while Micheal still has the stake in his hand while he's rushing him, running right into it. Yorga turns to dust right after, but No Ontological Inertia isn't in effect here, so those he turned remain vampires meaning Erica, a friend of Micheal's, stays undead and continue to come after him regardless of her master's death. Micheal manages to ward her and a fellow vampire bride back with a cross and make them run off. But Donna soon reveals that she's now a vampire herself, Yorga having long turned her by the time Micheal reached her. She promptly attacks and kills him.
    • Return of Count Yorga ends with Baldwin trying to rescue Cynthia but gets cornered in a hallway by Yorga's brides with seemingly no way out. Just as Yorga's about to claim Cynthia as his, Balwin seems to miraculously escape and continue his pursuit. The chase ends up on the balcony of the house where the men fight, Yorga looks to have the advantage but Cynthia, whose memories of her family dying by the brides Yorga send after them gradually coming back, fully regains them and attack Yorga from behind with an axe. This kills him and Balwin finishes him off by throwing him off the balcony. All seems well except Balwin reveals he didn't get past the brides unscathed and was in fact bitten by them. He turns right then and there and proceeds to bite Cynthia.
  • DC Extended Universe:
    • In Man of Steel, Zod notes that Superman is unwilling to put civilians in harm's way and, once he starts growing accustomed to the powers Earth's sun has given him, deliberately takes the fight around Metropolis, causing monumental damage and claiming a number of untold lives in the crossfire despite Clark's efforts to stop Zod. Ultimately, the fight moves into an area where civilians are hiding and Zod uses his laser eyes to attempt to kill them with Clark struggling to keep him from doing so via headlock. When Zod refuses to listen to Clark's pleads to stop. Clark has no choice but to snap his neck and kill him since it was the only way to end his rampage permanently. While Clark does recover from having to do the deed and is assured by Lois he did the right thing. The damage from the fight was done, literally and figuratively, leading to....
    • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice: ...where we see the fallout from the battle and opinions split on Superman in which many people are scared or angry at him for his role of his battle in Metropolis, one of which is Bruce Wayne aka Batman, basically turning the people Clark just wants to protect against him. If that wasn't bad enough, Lex Luthor, who is against Superman for his own personal reasons unrelated to the above, uses his science and connections to claim Zod's body for his own, revive him into a monstrous being dubbed "Doomsday" and uses him as his backup plan should his ploy to have Batman kill Superman fail (which it does). At the end, aided by Batman and Wonder Woman, Superman manages to kill Doomsday with a Kryptonite spear. But Zod/Doomsday likewise mortally wounds Superman in the clash and kills him as well, fulfilling Lex's goal in process. The victory is only soured in that 1) Lex is arrested shortly after for his crimes and sent to prison 2) Superman's sacrifice greatly sways public opinion of Superman to the positive with the world finally seeing him as the hero he is and 3) the death in undone in Justice League (2017).
  • Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019): A positive case since The Extremist Was Right. The eco-terrorist Emma Russell (the only eco-terrorist to have a Heel Realization once their actions in awakening Ghidorah lead to the latter threatening all complex life on Earth) dies pulling a Redemption Equals Death, distracting King Ghidorah until the three-headed monster fatally injures them. After Emma's death, the very goal they set out to achieve has been reached: the awakened Titans around the world regenerating the ecosphere, whilst humans and Titans are at peaceful coexistence. Note that Emma's goal is only achieved after their death when Ghidorah is slain by Godzilla since it's only under Godzilla's direction that the Titans stay away from population centers while renewing the ecosphere whereas Ghidorah was forcing the Titans to purely destroy everything. Then, in Godzilla vs. Kong, it is revealed that Godzilla sent the other Titans back to sleep in the time-skip after the previous film, stopping even the potential disruption of the Earth from having that many Titans awake at one time.
  • In the final battle of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Azog and Thorin fight each other and Azog dies after he falls into the icy lake and freezes to death. However, Azog manages to mortally wound Thorin, and he dies shortly thereafter, meaning Azog was successful in hunting Thorin.
  • James Bond:
    • Skyfall: Despite Bond killing Raoul Silva at the end of the film, the latter still succeeds in his main goal of killing Olivia Mansfield, aka M, thanks to one of his men hitting her with a stray bullet in the abdomen.
    • No Time to Die: Zig-Zagged Trope regarding Lyutsifer Safin. On one hand, his genocidal Evil Plan to unleash the Heracles nanomachines on the world and unveiling it for other nations to capture and use is thwarted by Bond. On the other, his last, desperate goal of killing James Bond ultimately succeeds, with Bond mortally wounded and now infected with a strain of Heracles capable of killing his wife and daughter with a single touch. Bond himself is forced to stay on Safin's island and help destroy the virus for good, dying from the missile strike launched by the Royal Navy he himself had called in. This all happens just minutes after Bond shoots Safin thrice in the head.
  • Kamen Rider Zero One Others Vulcan Valkyrie: Lyon Arkland (the Big Bad of the film before it) dies without being able to mass-produce the Solds he wanted to enter the global arms race with. He DID, however, accomplish his goal of turning the members of Metsubojinrai into the Designated Villain he wanted said Solds to fight and claimed the lives of most of the heroes by proxy of the insane Mechanical Abomination he inadvertently transformed the four into doing it for him. For bonus points, the entire incident sours the relations between man and machine the heroes had been fighting to establish all season, with the government itself planning a renewed crackdown on Artificial Intelligence.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Nearly invoked, but subverted in Captain America: Civil War. Colonel Helmut Zemo had successfully manipulated the Avengers into fighting each other as revenge for getting his family killed during the Battle of Sokovia, and decides to end his own life knowing the team is irreparably damaged. Black Panther steps in and stops the suicide attempt, noting "The living are not done with you yet."
    • In Spider-Man: Far From Home, Peter manages to stop Quentin "Mysterio" Beck's plot. In the process, Beck is shot by one of his own killer drones and expires — but Mysterio still gets the last laugh. The post-credits scene shows an underling of Mysterio anonymously post a video Mysterio recorded before Peter killed him, where the former frames the latter for the elementals' damage and claims he's gone rogue. Spider-Man: No Way Home winds up mitigating this this to a degree, as Matt Murdock is able to get the legal charges dropped, but Peter winds up being hounded in his social and personal life to the point MIT won't accept him or his friends due to his controversial image. All of this leads Peter to having Doctor Strange cast a spell to erase all knowledge of his identity from the public, but poor communication between both men causes the deceased villains of Sam Rami and Marc Webb's series to be brought back and wreak havoc in the MCU. This also becomes a double subversion by the end, where Peter asks Strange to remove everyone's memories of Peter Parker, which proves successful at the cost of all his friendships. Nobody knows that Peter is Spider-Man anymore, but Mysterio still managed to ruin his life by not only leaving him completely broke and living in an empty apartment in search of a GED, but also, despite no longer revealing Peter's real identity, Mysterio still managed to turn Spider-Man into a controversial figure, ruin the name of Stark Industries, and be seen as a Fake Ultimate Hero like he dreamed of.
    • Black Panther: Wakanda Forever: N'Jadaka/Erik "Killmonger" Stevens having all the heart-shaped herbs burned ultimately meant he posthumously succeeded in his goal to kill T'Challa, as T'Challa died of a serious illness that the herb could've cured.
  • The third Rampage (2009) film Rampage: President Down ends with Bill Williamson shot down, but the reports of his death ends up inspiring several people around the world to start riots and spree kills of their own, exactly as Bill planned.
  • Played karmically in Scream 4. Jill's motive for going on a killing spree as Ghostface is to make the public believe she's the Final Girl and become a media darling. She succeeds, only to be killed by Sidney shortly after. The final scene shows reporters speaking of her in glowing terms; she got what she wanted, but she isn't around to enjoy it, and her fame will presumably die when the truth gets out.
  • Se7en: John Doe, after murdering five people to become five of the Seven Deadly Sins, completes his design when he himself has become Envy by murdering Detective Mills' wife and the unborn child he didn't know about; using this to goad Mills into shooting him dead and becoming the last remaining sin, Wrath.
  • Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan: Khan and the Reliant are destroyed, and Khan doesn't succeed in his immediate goal of destroying the Enterprise; ironically, he dies believing he will achieve that posthumous victory. Yet he does succeed in his ultimate goal of hurting Kirk, as saving the Enterprise costs Spock his life, and Khan's actions have ramifications that span the rest of the TOS era and beyond, since in Kirk's quest to resurrect Spock, he loses the Enterprise, his Admiral rank, and his son's life, while becoming a hated figure among the Klingons. And while he doesn't seem too sad about getting demoted back to Captain, he is eventually forced to retire since he can't be promoted to flag officer again, which leads to his fateful press visit on the Enterprise-B, leading to the Nexus and his eventual death there. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine would explicitly state that Khan is the reason the Federation bans bio-augmentation and genetic engineering (though that has as much to do with the historical Eugenics Wars as the events of this film).
  • Star Wars:
    • The Phantom Menace: Zig-Zagged by Darth Maul, who's actions cause the entire saga to unfold thanks to killing Qui-Gon Jinn, thus forcing Anakin Skywalker to be trained by the well-meaning, but ultimately flawed Obi-Wan Kenobi. Without Qui-Gon's teachings to help the emotionally troubled boy, Anakin winds up a troubled young man distrusted by the Order who trained him, and easily manipulated by Palpatine into becoming the man who would destroy the Jedi and allow the Sith to have their revenge as Maul was aiming for: Darth Vader. Where the zig-zagging kicks in is that Maul, as Star Wars: The Clone Wars revealed, was not dead, but had survived on a junk planet; a wreck of his former self. Him being found and nursed back to health by his brother Savage Opress gives him the opportunity to make Obi-Wan suffer even more by taking over Mandalore and killing the woman he loves, Duchess Satine. It gets even worse when his rule over the planet keeps Anakin's former Padawan, Ahsoka Tano, away from her old master at his most critical moment, leading to his downfall and her losing all but one of the men under her command when Order 66 goes online. Then Maul causes trouble for the Phoenix crew in Star Wars Rebels by blinding Kanan Jarrus and causing Ezra Bridger to have a brush with the Dark Side, but then he finally bites it when he tries killing Obi-Wan on Tatooine and falls to the Jedi Master. All of this and more occurred because of Maul, both in life and in death.
    • The Rise of Skywalker: The resurrected Emperor Palpatine, aka Darth Sidious, ends up getting killed by his own lightning deflected by his granddaughter Rey, and his reign of terror ends for good. However, the Emperor's death causes Rey to die as well, forcing the last surviving Skywalker, Ben Solo, to sacrifice his life force to resurrect her, causing him to die and thus extinguish the Skywalker bloodline forever. In death, Sidious has the last spiteful victory over the Skywalkers, and the only way to prevent Skywalker legacy from ending in tragedy is for Rey to take up the surname herself as her family identity and their true heir.
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past: In the original timeline, Mystique kills Bolivar Trask to avenge his killing of Xavier's other students. This just convinces the rest of the world that Trask's anti-mutant prejudice was correct, and Trask's Sentinel Program continues without him—eventually leading to the Bad Future where Sentinels have hunted mutants to the brink of extinction. Fortunately, Logan is able to travel back in time to stop this from coming to pass. Appropriately enough, stopping Trask's Sentinel Program requires keeping him alive, and discrediting him instead.

    Literature 
  • This trope becomes a major plot point in Agatha Christie's final Hercule Poirot novel, Curtain. Within the novel, Poirot is dealing with a villain known only as Mr. X, who manipulates others into committing murder. Hence, Mr. X cannot be punished by law, as he (strictly) did nothing illegal. Poirot, however, sees it as his duty to stop Mr. X and confronts him, stating that he will execute him, if necessary. Mr. X, in response, laughs at Poirot and reminds him how murdering someone in cold blood would not only ruin his reputation but also destroy his piety (which was of great importance to a devout Catholic such as Poirot). Poirot follows through with his plan, nevertheless, and sedates Mr. X, after which he kills him execution-style. As Poirot prepares to take the shot, Mr. X wakes up and sports one last grin, as he succeeded in turning Poirot into a murderer. Poirot later takes his own life over it, which Mr. X would have probably seen as a pleasant bonus.
  • 'Salem's Lot: Barlow the head vampire gets staked, but by then it's far too late to save the town of Salem's Lot since killing him doesn't change back the victims. The surviving protagonists are ultimately forced to flee as the town is overrun by his vampire minions.
  • The Thorn Birds: Incensed by Father Ralph DeBricassart rebuffing her advances and further angered over his love for her niece Meggie Clearly, Mary Carson amends her will. Whereas she was originally going to leave everything to her brother Paddy (Meggie's father) and his family, she now leaves the bulk of it to Ralph, even though she still leaves a significant amount to Paddy. Had she left everything to Ralph and left her brother penniless, she knows Ralph would have been angry to refuse the new terms, but this way, he has no reason to do so. Furthermore, with her financial backing, Ralph can begin to advance in the Catholic Church, something else she knows he desperately wants, but simultaneously be separated from his beloved Meggie. Despite their love for each other and even a romantic interlude that results in a son, they're never able to be happy together. She's basically managed to pull a posthumous If I Can't Have You as well.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Arrow: In Season 5, Prometheus, aka Adrian Chase, has spent the entirety of his appearance trying to prove that Oliver Queen is nothing more than a monster, and make him suffer in any way that he can. He doesn't succeed in breaking Oliver, who refuses to fall down the dark path, but he does manage to add in more suffering when he takes his own life—a bomb on Lian Yu (the island where Oliver spent five years trying to survive) that he had tied to his heartbeat detonates, killing his son William's birth mother.
  • The Blacklist: Though he doesn't live to see it, Neville Townsend's goal of making Reddington watch Liz die is ultimately successful when Vandyke shoots Liz from the back.
  • Blue Bloods Serial Killer Thomas Wilder tries to invoke this on Danny Reagan by recording every conversation they have—during which Danny threatens to kill him several times and kidnapping his niece Nicky and luring him into a situation in which Danny has no choice but to shoot him. However, thanks to the myriad of taped phone calls, it ends up looking premeditated. Fortunately, he's cleared after an investigation.
  • Doctor Who: Charlie, The villain of the episode "Kerblam!", is an Evil Luddite who blames Job Stealing Robots for the galaxy's unemployment crisis, so he plans to commit mass-murder against a Mega-Corp's customers by hijacking their delivery robots and having them deliver explosives to the customers, in the belief that the resulting scandal would force the corporations to stop depending on automated labour. Although he ends up blown up by the bombs he planned to use for the crime before he can pull off the mass murder part, his pre-mortem Motive Rant convinces some of the Mega-Corp's managers that the Villain Has a Point, and they decide to review their policies to allow for more human and fewer robot workers.
  • In Robin Hood, Sheriff Isabella is presumably killed in the explosion that topples Nottingham Castle, but not before she nicks Robin on his neck with a dagger coated in poison. He survives her death by only a few minutes before succumbing to the poison in his system.
  • Supernatural: In "Lucifer Rising", after Lilith has broken 65 of the 66 seals to free Lucifer, she's killed by Sam, but this is actually a Thanatos Gambit since Lilith is herself the last seal. Mere minutes after Lilith perishes, her goal of jump-starting the Apocalypse is realized as Lucifer emerges onto the Earth.
  • Westworld: In the penultimate episode, William convinces his host counterpart, the Man in Black, to embrace his destructive nature which is destroying the entire world and this starts by killing him. The Man in Black does the deed, kills everyone in sight including Maeve and Bernard, and unleashes a Hate Plague to force all the humans and hosts to kill each other. Even though Hale defeats the Man in Black, Williams still wins in the end because eventually, sentient life will die out soon.
  • The Young and the Restless: Sharon Newman's rapist (from several years ago) Matt Clark has been exposed as trying to frame her husband Nick for drug dealing and been gravely injured in a car accident trying to flee the police. When Nick goes to the hospital to confront him, Matt beckons him to approach the bed and taunts him about having raped Sharon a second time (he didn't, he's just lying to provoke him), then pulls out his own breathing tube and shoves it into Nick's hand. When the medical staff rushes in, they find Matt dead and Nick standing there, looking as though he pulled out the tube in order to kill Matt. It takes weeks for him to be cleared of murder charges and even then, the fear that he might have raped Sharon again—and be the father of the baby she's pregnant with—causes considerable strain on their marriage, ultimately resulting in a Tragic Stillbirth and eventual divorce. Matt himself even lampshades this trope with his final words, tauntingly telling Nick, "I win, rich boy."

    Video Games 
  • Bravely Default: Ciggma Khint is bought out with an entire treasury's worth of pg, which ensures that your (third) battle with him is to the death (compared to the first two, where he eventually bails out). Even upon being killed, he still accomplished his mission: rake enough funds for his sick daughter back home.
  • Raul Menendez in Call of Duty: Black Ops II can be killed in the final mission. If you do, it triggers a video release which is part of his final plan to cause an uprising against the United States government. However, background material in the sequel does some branch-cutting; while Raul is canonically said to have died during the attack on his base in Haiti, it is revealed that the nature of his death (being killed as he was trying to escape, disguised as a soldier) caused backlash within the Cordis Die movement, with many seeing his death as cowardly; as a result, his movement split, and subsequently collapsed from the infighting and the uprising never happened.
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2:
    • Even though every playable character knows just what General Shepherd did by betraying Task Force 141 to start a Third World War, by the time Soap and Price kill him, his plan is too far along to stop, and Shepherd dies as a hero like he wanted to. Downplayed in Modern Warfare 3, where Task Force 141 is exonerated after Price reveals Shepherd's conspiracy with Makarov. Still, World War III did break out, so Shepherd still got what he wanted in the end.
    • During the opening of the game, we learn that the Big Bad of the previous game, Imran Zakhaev, was canonised as a hero of Russia after being killed by Task Force 141. His ultranationalist faction also wound up the victors of the civil war in the country, now led by Makarov.
  • This trope happens in Counter-Strike when the terrorists have planted the Time Bomb, subsequently are killed, and then the counter-terrorists fail to defuse the Incredibly Obvious Bomb before its timer expires.
  • In Devil Survivor, the unnamed founder of the Shomonkai's ultimate goal is to rid humanity of God's influence. In Naoya's ending, while he doesn't live to see it, the protagonist becomes the King of Bel and declares war on God. It gets even better in Overclocked if the protagonist chooses to spare enemy demon tamers on Naoya's Day 8, as humanity turns against God outright.
  • In The Division, by the time the Agent has found Gorden Amherst, the creator of the Dollar Flu, in the final mission, he's already dead, killed by his own disease. Nonetheless, he got what he wanted, as the Dollar Flu caused civilization to collapse.
  • EXTRAPOWER: Attack of Darkforce: So you've defeated the Bem Colony, the amalgamation of all the remaining Bem, Mook and boss alike, and prevented an assimilating alien species from colonizing the Earth. Except, as they point out in their dying moments, the bem Gradius is still in the heroes' party, and they are disinclined to kill their friend. As Gradius does indeed survive the game, continuing his missions with SPICA, Gradius does end up fulfilling the hope of him becoming the seed of Bems' continued existence on the planet.
  • In Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade, King Desmond of Bern favors his bastard daughter Guinivere over his legitimate heir Zephiel and seeks to kill Zephiel so he can place Guinivere's husband on the throne. The heroes thwart Desmond's plans in the main story, and Zephiel is mentioned to have assassinated him in the epilogue. However, Desmond's abuse of Zephiel turns him into a bitter misanthrope, and Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade sees Zephiel start a war that ends with Desmond's objectives posthumously being completed — Roy kills Zephiel and places Guinivere herself on Bern's throne.
  • For Honor: Apollyon wishes to have all three factions in constant warfare with one another because of her Social Darwinist philosophy, and manipulates events in order to have this happen. Over the course of the game, she destroys the main Warborn food stores so that they'll fight amongst one another, and uses the knockdown effect of the Warborn raiding the Dawn Empire and sacking its capital to assassinate the royal family, all while the Blackstone Legion amasses more power. After being mortally wounded by the Orochi, she points out that since the Dawn Empire invaded Legion lands to fight her, the current war will continue, punctuated by the fact that the Warborn busting in causes the Chosen-Iron Legion truce to break; both considering their attack a betrayal by the other side, and an endless bloody Mle Trois ensues as Apollyon dies satisfied.
  • God of War: Ares wanted to use Kratos as a weapon to destroy Olympus. Kratos did kill the Olympians... after he killed Ares.
  • In Injustice: Gods Among Us, as well as its tie-in comic and animated film, The Joker manipulates Superman into accidentally killing Lois Lane, whose death sets off a Dead Man's Switch that activates a nuclear weapon that destroys Metropolis, killing millions. When Superman interrupts Batman's interrogation, Joker admits that he got bored of trying to push Batman over the edge to see if he would break his no-kill rule, but when Batman wouldn't budge, he moved to another target. Superman responds by thrusting his hand through the Joker's torso, and eventually Superman comes to the conclusion that becoming a dictator is the only way to eliminate all crime.
  • Mortal Kombat X: Scorpion finds out from Sub-Zero about Quan Chi killing his family and instantly goes after him just as the Special Forces have him in custody. Despite Sonya and Johnny trying to tell him to wait until he undoes the revenant transformation on their allies, Scopion refuses out of his desire for revenge. After he deals with the two of them, D'Vorah arrives with the medallion that holds Shinnok and throws it to Quan Chi, who releases him just in time before Scorpion kills him, freeing the corrupt Elder God who goes on to continue his campaign of taking over the world.
  • Persona 5: Played with. Akechi's main goal in life is to get revenge on Shido for abandoning him as his bastard son. In Shido's Palace, after his defeat at the hands of the Phantom Thieves, Akechi is confronted by his cognitive double, who reveals he was being manipulated by Shido as his hitman and will now be killed for having outlived his usefulness. However, Akechi manages to separate himself and the double from the Thieves and makes Joker promise to take Shido's Heart in his stead before possibly dying at his copy's hands. The heist is successful and thanks to Joker's testimony, Shido is tried and presumably imprisoned, fulfilling Akechi's wish, albeit less gruesomely. Further complicating matters is the fact that the Thieves would've taken Shido's heart anyway for their own reasons, and would've done so anyway without Akechi's input; furthermore, he initially tried to stop them, deciding that revenge is secondary to proving himself better than the protagonist even at the cost of his own life, and failing at that objective. It gets even crazier in Royal when he turns up in one piece, and the events of the third semester leave it ambiguous as to whether he's Not Quite Dead or temporarily Back from the Dead.
  • Scarlet Nexus: The Big Bad Karen, gets the wish of saving his Lost Lenore Alice, by using his stolen Time Travel red strings power to Ret-Gone himself, who Alice had ended up Taking the Bullet for, with only The Squad remembering Karen.
  • Tales of Phantasia: After the heroes defeat him for the final time, Dhaos uses his dying breaths to reveal that he's a member of a Dying Race, whose people pinned all their hopes of survival on him coming to the world of Aselia and harvesting enough mana to create a mana seed... and his wars with the human race have been an effort to suppress and destroy their Magitek, which threatens mana's existence. The heroes conclude that he was a Well-Intentioned Extremist who had noble goals but horrible methods of achieving them and mourn for his doomed people. As the ending plays, Martel, guardian spirit of the Yggdrasil, is shown transforming Dhaos' corpse into a mana seed and sending it to his homeworld.
  • At the end of Operation 008 in The Wonderful 101, Gimme is killed after being knocked into his own heat lasers. Unfortunately, they don't shut off after Gimme dies, and thus Gimme's objective of destroying Mother Platinum comes to pass.

    Web Video 

    Western Animation 
  • Here's an Evil vs. Evil example: in the Batman: The Animated Series episode "Joker's Millions" (and the 1952 comic it's based on), mob boss Edward "King" Barlowe dies and leaves The Joker an enormous fortune in cash, gold, and jewels which comes out to about $250 million. The Clown Prince of Crime goes on an endless buying spree, then learns that the government is after him to pay inheritance tax (and even he doesn't dare take on the IRS). As he and his minions search through the pile of money, they discover that the bills have Barlowe's face on them. They next find a videotape that shows Barlowe on his deathbed... smiling. The mobster brags that while he did leave the Joker about $10 million (which he correctly suspects the clown already spent), everything else is fake. Barlowe even arranged a Morton's Fork for the Joker: his only options are to flee from the IRS (which he can't do) or admit that someone pulled one over on him (which he can't stand). Barlowe wheezes hysterically as he remarks "The joke's on you, sucker! I got the last laugh after all!"
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars: In "Cloak of Darkness", Nute Gunray is being transported to Coruscant for trial after his capture in the previous episode, leading the Separatists to launch a full-scale assault to bust him out before he can blab. He winds up escaping thanks to Captain Argyus, a traitorous Senate Guard, costing the Republic a key chance to end the war earlier. Where the "Posthumous" part comes in is that Asajj Ventress offs Argyus rather pettily when he tries to prop himself as the reason the plan worked. The next episode shows his actions leading to further death, as Kit Fisto loses his men and former Padawan to General Grievous himself while trying to pursue the Viceroy.

 
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King Barlowe's trick on Joker

The Clown Prince of Crime gets fooled.

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