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Running Both Sides

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"This time tomorrow, I’ll have the West's most powerful leader in one hand and the world’s most feared terrorist in the other. I'll own the War on Terror."
Aldrich Killian, Iron Man 3

A conflict is going on. It might be a shooting war or just a fierce rivalry; it might be only important to some of the characters or important to nearly everyone in the setting. However, it turns out that while the subordinates on opposite sides feel very strongly about it, the leadership on either side aren't enemies. They might even be the same person! Normally, you'd expect someone in that position to attempt to defuse the conflict. But they don't, they encourage it, not because of Honor Before Reason, but because it is to their political advantage to keep the conflict going for the moment.

Spoiler Alert: Due to the nature of this trope, the mere listing of a work as an example could be a spoiler. While contributors are encouraged to hide spoilers where appropriate, reader beware.

A subtrope of Playing Both Sides. May involve the Mole in Charge or Resistance as Planned. Compare Xanatos Gambit if the one doing the running benefits regardless of who wins or if anyone wins at all.


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  • When they were initially released, the marketing around Count Chocula and Frankenberry portrayed them as bitter rivals hotly debating which cereal was better, but General Mills got the profit no matter which one you favored.

    Anime & Manga 
  • It is heavily foreshadowed and eventually revealed that the forces of both good and evil in Avesta of Black and White are controlled by Mithra, a goddess of whom all the worlds moralities revolve around, having forced everything to conform to her own twisted Black-and-White Insanity.
  • In Darker than Black, nearly everyone works for The Syndicate, although most of them don't know it. Part of the point of this is to trick Contractors into wiping themselves out, as most of them work for various intelligence agencies in (seeming) opposition.
  • In Death Note, following L's death, Light Yagami takes control of both the Japanese task force and his own Evil Plan to rule the world. He intended to let the task force be the losing side. It fails spectacularly.
  • In Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, Zechs Merquise and Treize Khushrenada assume control of La Résistance and The Federation respectively and get into a giant, potentially apocalyptic war. While they seem to be bitter enemies, the anime strongly implies (and the manga outright states) that the whole thing is a Batman Gambit to bring peace by showing humanity just how terrible war really is.
  • MÄR: Both the Chess Pieces and the Cross Guard were founded by the same person, i.e. Diana, Dorothy's older sister and the Queen of the Chess pieces, who wanted to plunge the world into a large-scale war.
  • In Madlax, Enfant had been supplying and coordinating both sides of the Gatz-Sonikan civil war.
  • In One Piece, the civil war in Alabasta has agents of Baroque Works among both the royal army and the rebel forces in order to ensure that the conflict will not be resolved peacefully.
  • In Street Fighter Alpha Shadaloo runs the top branches of the U.S. Army to ensure it avoids being brought down.
  • Downplayed in Tokyo Ghoul. Kishou Arima is not the supreme leader of the CCG, but is a very high-ranking official who serves as The Dragon to Chairman Tsuneyoshi Wasshu and practically the leader of the investigators, to the point of being a celebrity. Arima is also The Dragon to Eto, as one-half of the Aogiri Tree supreme leader, the One-Eyed King, and is considered the “real” One-Eyed King.

    Comic Books 
  • In Nextwave, the 'wavers discover that their anti-terrorist agency H.A.T.E. is actually owned and run by the Beyond© Corporation, the very terrorists they're supposed to be fighting.
  • In Secret Warriors, it turned out that HYDRA secretly owned S.H.I.E.L.D. Then it turned out that Nick Fury knew this all along, and was using it to manipulate HYDRA.
  • In Sillage, the heroine lands on a planet locked in an eternal war against machines. The inhabitants would have died years ago had it not been for the regular deliveries of food and supplies in large containers, though nobody knows who sends them. As Nävis investigates, she eventually discovers the AI running the robots is also the one responsible for the supply drops, as ages ago it was a military AI (they're sentient in this universe), so bored by peace it basically started running a real-life RTS, giving its opponents food so as to keep the game going.
  • In The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, M turns out to be Moriarty. He was recruited by the government in order to help control the criminal underworld. He can't decide if he's a government agent who controls the criminals, a criminal who controls a government agency or both.

    Fan Works 
  • In Guardians, Wizards, and Kung-Fu Fighters, this is ultimately revealed to be the case with Section 13 and the Dark Hand. The true leaders of the Dark Hand created it as a means of showing the world the threat presented by magic, so they'd unite to combat it, creating Section 13 to weaponize magic for their use. One of the secret leaders of the Dark Hand is also Captain Black's direct superior.
  • Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, Tom Riddle opposed himself under a stolen identity, with the hope of gaining power for defeating Voldemort. He changed this plan when magical Britain turned out to be too disorginized to taken on Voldemort.
  • A Man of Iron has a downplayed example, starting in the second book, A Crack of Thunder. The Master of Whispers for the Lannisters (Varys) and the Master of Whispers for the Northern rebellion (MCU!Nikolos Fury) are actually both agents of the mysterious Council, which is trying to guide Westeros to be ready to face the threat of the Others.
  • The Mountain and the Wolf: Thanks to his flying teleporting longship, the long distances involved, use of disguised agents, and no one particularly wanting to follow him when he goes out to sea, the Wolf is free to help out both Daenerys (by secretly stopping Euron's attack) and Cersei (by bringing her the Golden Company's elephants). It only stops when Daenerys catches him stealing the Iron Throne for an unspecified reason (although he seemed surprised she'd be opposed to it), but ends in her death and the Wolf's escape.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Cars 2, Sir Miles Axelrod is hosting the World Grand Prix to promote his Allinol and is the shadowy leader of the Lemons. This is all part of a larger effort to discredit alternative fuels and encourage greater reliance on conventional petroleum sources.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The main plot of Batman Returns: The Penguin has his gang (to which he appears to have no connection whatsoever in the public's mind) commit random acts of violence throughout Gotham City in order to make the city's current mayor look weak, while simultaneously running for mayor himself and claiming he's the only one who can restore order (and technically, he's telling the truth!). One of his allies even refers to "the Gulf of Tonkin" and "the Reichstag fire", both real-life events that might suggest to naïve viewers that both were False Flag Operations, when in fact they genuinely happened and were only exploited afterward.
  • The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Phantom, the League's archnemesis, is also M, the British government representative who recruited the League to stop the Phantom. He was once known as Professor James Moriarty.
  • In The Matrix Reloaded, it is revealed that the Machine intelligence known as The Architect designed the Matrix to periodically spit out a messiah figure to start a small revolt, and Neo is the sixth. The reason? Human free will adds just enough chaos to the system to prevent complete virtual management—but allow one human to restart the war, and the system remains stable. As the Architect puts it, "Your life is the sum of a remainder of an unbalanced equation inherent to the programming of the Matrix." In essence, the war is just another part of the operation of the power plant known as the Matrix.
  • In Police Academy 6: City Under Siege, the crime boss turns out to be the mayor. As mayor, he knew about the city's light rail plans which would increase property values in the covered areas, while as a crime boss, he could use a crime wave to drop property values so he could buy the land cheap.
  • In the Star Wars prequel trilogy, Darth Sidious orchestrates the Clone Wars, with himself in ultimate control of both sides; he is the leader of the Republic as Supreme Chancellor Palpatine and the Separatists are led by his Sith Apprentice Count Dooku/Darth Tyranus, meaning the ultimate authority over the Separatists secretly lies with him as well. As Chancellor, the conflict is his means of securing total and eternal power and destroying the Jedi Order, while Dooku and the Separatists provides the external threat used to justify his expansion of government power. Given he ran both sides of the conflict, this effectively means the outcome of the war was completely irrelevant, as no matter who won he'd rule the galaxy and wipe out the Jedi, the war itself was just a means to an end. Once the Jedi are defeated, he ends the Clone Wars by calling a meeting of the Separatist council on Mustafar and then sending the newly anointed Darth Vader there to slaughter them.
  • In Wag the Dog, political advisors attempt to create an "artificial war"—and trick the public into thinking it's the real thing.

  • The possibility of this trope is what prevents the ring from going to Gondor (or anywhere else but Mt. Doom) in The Lord of the Rings—since Sauron alone can control the ring, any faction opposing him and attempting to use the ring would inevitably be corrupted to the point where Sauron himself (as the ring is to some degree a physical extension of his will and personality) would be controlling both the forces of Mordor and the forces opposing Mordor.
  • Random Factor series: a giant space war has been going on for years. Then stuff starts going wrong, and the main character manages to gain access to the sentient AI running his side's war effort... but finds that actually, the two sides are orchestrating the war pretty precisely. Oh, and the people actually fighting and dying are half-size test-tube clones, on half-size space ships. Saves money, that way.
  • It's done in American Gods. While Mr. Wednesday rallies the Old Gods, his partner Loki is leading the New Gods as Mr. World.
  • Illuminatus!: Hagbard Celine is the leader of both the Legion of Dynamic Discord and the Illuminati, although something of a Downplayed Example, as he's one of five leaders of the latter, and also the Only Sane Man of the five who councils against the actions of the plot.
  • In Nineteen Eighty-Four, the resistance turns out to be run by the central government. Furthermore, the three world governments seem to be encouraging a state of constant warfare among them in order to better control their own populations—it's quite possible and often theorized that they are all really ruled by the same group, although this is never directly spelled out.
  • In Mercedes Lackey's Dragon Jousters series, it is discovered that both leaders of the warring nations (Fantasy Counterpart Cultures of Upper and Lower Ancient Egypt) are being manipulated by a corrupt Magician's Guild. The death-energies from the soldiers in battle are harnessed as sacrifices to fuel an immortality/youth spell.
  • Tanya Huff's Confederation of Valor series has this as a reveal in the last book: A heretofore unknown shapeshifting alien race started an intergalactic war just to study how the different species would behave, like mice in a labyrinth.
  • In Discworld, Lord Vetinari is not only aware that there are numerous secret societies and conspiracies trying to overthrow him or replace him, but according to Guards! Guards!, he's even founded a few of them. This is so they spend their time fighting each other rather than actually achieve their aim.
  • Part of The Reveal in G. K. Chesterton's novel The Man Who Was Thursday, used for Mind Screw and Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory purposes.
  • In the Doctor Who New Adventures novel Toy Soldiers, there's a war where it turns out that both sides are being run by the same supercomputer, which had set the whole thing up because it had heard somewhere that periods of conflict often produce flowerings of creativity.
  • In the Fablehaven series, it turns out that the Sphinx is both the captain of the Knights of Dawn, dedicated to keeping the demon prison sealed, and the mastermind behind The Society of The Evening Star, who are trying to gain control of the means to open the prison.
  • Ender's Game has Peter and Valentine Wiggin. They are genius children using primitive, pre-Internet Sock Puppets, Locke and Demosthenes respectively, to manipulate the major political thinkers through phoney debates; Demosthenes a warmongering demogogue, Locke a diplomacy-minded intellectual, and contrary to Peter or Valentine's actual beliefs. It's all an elaborate plan on Peter's part to formally establish himself as a great political mind, with influence and hopefully power, without the handicap of his age.
  • Hardboiled Wonderland And The End Of The World has two opposing factions, the Calcutecs that are paid to guard information, and the Semiotecs that steal and sell it. It's heavily implied that both organizations might be in cahoots, though, as with many things in the book, it's never revealed.
  • Milo Minderbender of Catch-22 pulls this off quite well in wartime, managing to profit tons of money by battling his own planes against each other and, infamously, bombing his own military unit and friends.
  • In Worm, Coil eventually accomplishes this; having successfully eliminated every villain in the city not clandestinely in his employ, he then stages a disaster which causes the local civilian government to be decapitated and the head of the Parahuman Response Taskforce to be discredited. He then replaces the head of the PRT in his civilian identity, putting him in charge of the city's superheroes.
  • In The Heritage of Shannara, the Four Lands are suffering from a plague of vampiric, magical monsters called Shadowen which in addition to killing people who fall into their clutches also spread corruption and decay by sucking the magical energies out of the earth to feed on. This prompts the Federation and its Seekers to brutally crack down on all magic users, blaming them for the problem. It eventually turns out that Rimmer Dall, the head Seeker, is also the leader and most powerful of the Shadowen, and he's deliberately fanning the flames of the crisis from both ends to increase his personal power.
  • Chronicles of Ancient Darkness: In book 5, Thiazzi the Oak Mage has killed the Forest Horse Clan's mage and become the new mage (or impersonated the old one), riling up the clan against the Auroch Clan to start a clan war. Renn goes to reveal this to the Auroch Mage, only to find out that Thiazzi is the Auroch Mage as well.
  • One of the big reveals of Metaltown is that in order to stay profitable, Hampton Industries supplies weapons to both sides of the war to stop it from ending

    Live-Action TV 

    Professional Wrestling 

    Tabletop Games 
  • Several Warhammer Chaos gods are prone to this, especially Tzeentch (the god of magic, messing with fate and Gambit Roulette) and Zuvassin (a minor chaos god of spite and failure).
  • In Warhammer 40,000, there's not only Tzeentch, but the Eldar, the C'tan Deceiver, and the Inquisition running around trying to keep multiple sides fighting each other. Although in the Eldar's case, it's to redirect an enemy towards another to prevent them from targeting the Eldar.
    • Near Tyranid space, a lot of rebellions turn out to be caused by a Genestealer cult manipulating the upper echelons of two or more factions, rebel and loyalist alike, turning them against each other until the entire planet is consumed by war, making it easy prey for the hive fleet.
  • In one of the Paranoia supplements, it's revealed that Friend Computer actually founded all the secret societies, just to see what would happen.
    • In the latest editions of the corebook, the Computer and the Ultraviolets rank the societies according to how dangerous they are. Those that are less dangerous are usually deeply infiltrated and influenced by, if not outright run by, the Computer and/or Ultraviolets (FCCCP being the prime example); some of them were created by the Computer to guide dissident impulses in these less dangerous directions. Other more extreme ones, like PURGE, are too dangerous for the Computer to control... but almost all have high ranking Ultraviolets at the helm (or close enough to make a grab for the wheel) already.
  • Shadowrun supplement Dragons of the Sixth World. Ryumyo is in control of both the legitimate government of Hawaii (King Kamehameha IV) and the ALOHA terrorist group opposing it.
  • This is somewhat the point of the game Imperial. Players buy stock in different 1900-era European nations and win by accumulating the most money on their investments, not by conquering one another. Sometimes the best move is to take majority control of two counties (meaning you get to take that nation's turn) and have them fight each other.
  • In the Card Game Race For The Galaxy, with the "Rebels vs. Imperium" extension it is possible for the same player to control both the Rebel Alliance and vital parts of the Imperium government. And they should, because their sources of victory points overlap: Holding lots of Rebel military worlds.

    Video Games 
  • Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War: The Belkans are aggravating/running both sides of the war.
  • Baldur's Gate II - Throne of Bhaal: the war started by the Five is orchestrated by the Big Bad, who is Amelyssan the Blackhearted, former priestess of Bhaal secretly plotting to gather his essence for herself, who also plays the role of Melissan, who deceives the main character that she's trying to help all the bhaalspawn from the fury of the Five, and sends him on a quest to defeat them.
  • The Administrator in Team Fortress 2. To quote from her character entry: "In a World… where a lot of guys dressed up in red fight a lot of guys dressed up in blue, it's telling that she dresses in purple."
  • The recurring CEO/weapon merchant/villain in Rogue Galaxy attempts to do this with the two biggest nations around so that he can continue to profit.
  • Crackdown: The Reveal at the end of the game is that the leader of The Agency, a superpowered law-enforcement agency for which you're an agent, was the reason the city turned into such a den of crime in the first place — he'd been supplying the gangs with weapons, transportation and intel for years, turning them from random punks into serious threats. Thus, he got an excuse to declare martial law and unleash the Agents on the city... exactly what the point was, though, is never explained.
  • In Assassin's Creed, Robert de Sable is secretly leading both the Crusaders and the Saracens, right under both King Richard's and Saladin's noses.
    • In the backstory the Templars were behind both the Allies and the Axis during World War 2. Churchill, Hitler, Stalin, and FDR were all part of the Order.
  • In Headhunter, the head of the criminal organization also turns out to be the one in charge of the Anti-Crime Network.
  • Joseph Bertrand from Infamous 2 controls the Militia that has taken over New Marais, as well as the Corrupted, mutated humans he created with his hidden Conduit powers, to fuel the war between Conduits and humans. He is also responsible for Vermaak 88's presence in the city, but he loses control of them when Cole accidentally frees them.
  • It's hard to tell how many sides there are in Xenosaga due to a Gambit Pileup of impressive complexity, but Wilhelm is in charge of all but one of them—the party.
    • Well, the party and Dmitri Yuriev. Wilhelm has accounted for his actions and doesn't see him as a real threat, but Yuriev isn't actually under his control. Ormus/U-TIC, Vector, Hyams Heavy Industries, and large parts of the Federation, on the other hand...
  • Irving of Wild ARMs 2 is behind both ARMS and Odessa. The theory was that either the world unites behind ARMS to defeat Odessa and then the true Big Bad, or else Odessa conquers the world and deals with the problem themselves.
  • In Tales of Symphonia, both the Desians and the Church of Martel are run by Mithos Yggdrasil and Cruxis, who want to keep the two worlds Sylvarant and Tethe'alla in a permanent struggle for mana in a misguided effort to prevent another of the Magitek wars that ended up killing Mithos' dead sister, the Church's namesake.
  • Admiral Tolwyn in Wing Commander IV, indirectly. He claims to favor peace while the Black Lance forces under his command carry out a False Flag Operation to incriminate the Border Worlds.
  • In Deus Ex: Invisible War, it turns out that the WTO and the Order are both being run by members of the Illuminati. The entire conflict between them is orchestrated by the respective leaders, who are working together.
    • This is foreshadowed by the more light-hearted reveal that the archrival Pequod's and Queequeg's coffee chains are owned by the same company.
  • Xenogears is a subversion. Both sides in the initial Kislev/Aveh war are being orchestrated, through various puppets, by Krelian, but it later turns out that this war is a pure sideshow to the actual events of the storyline, where there are multiple top-level factions with their own puppets, along with a couple of genuinely independent groups.
  • The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind:
    • If you join Great House Hlaalu, one of their last assignments will be to wrestle control of the Camonna Tong from Orvas Dren. If you then complete the Thieves' Guild storyline, you become their top dog, as well. Congratulations, you are now running both sides in a decades-long Mob War between two organized crime networks!
    • In a case that causes some Gameplay and Story Segregation, you can do this for the Mages Guild and Great House Telvanni. Unfortunately, the game doesn't recognize that you may already be the leader of the opposing faction when giving you a quest that would harm that faction. For example, a House Telvanni quest asks you to get the Mages Guild monopoly on magical training lifted. Likewise, a Mages Guild quest has you root out a Telvanni spy in their midst. If you're in charge of House Telvanni, that spy technically works for you. And because both factions cater to magic-using characters, it is likely that you'll want to join both if playing as a Mage.
  • Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse reveals that the Order Versus Chaos Forever War that has spanned the series was intentionally set up by YHVH, by splitting his most faithful angel, Satan, into his component halves, Merkabah and Lucifer, and then pitting them against one another under the banner of Law and Chaos respectively. YHVH's reason for doing so? Since humans' observation and reason dictate reality, and thus deriving faith in higher powers turns that faith into truth, it's in YHVH's best interests to ensure humanity believes in him, no matter his actions. Denying him this faith is what becomes his undoing.
  • The First-Episode Twist for Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is that the Consuls of the Moebius group have been maintaining the Forever War between the Keves and Agnus nations in order to ensure that Status Quo Is God for the world.
  • In Touhou Project, Yukari Yakumo is one of the leading figures on the youkai side, but is also the main benefactor of shrine maiden and local youkai exterminator Reimu Hakurei. The reason for this is that youkai are dependent on human fear and superstition to survive, so Yukari uses Reimu and her youkai exterminations to keep the youkai from wiping out all the humans of Gensokyo and negating their own existence.

  • In Dragon Mango: The Fenix Corporation funds the Cell Knights' fight against the "terrorist organization," Ashes. (They're really just trying to keep Ashes from revealing the truth behind how their city's precious reactors actually work). What they (Fenix) don't know is that they're funding both sides: Black Berry (commander of the Knights) and the leader of Ashes (Dug the Gnome) are both Fenix employees; working together (along with Chocolate Explosion, the creator of the Cell Knight tech), using the conflict to expose Fenix's corruption and destroy the reactors.
  • In Drowtales, it turns out that the mysterious Nidraa'chal leader who lead them against the ruling Sharen family is actually Snadhya'rune Vel'Sharen, the eldest daughter of the empress, and two of her sisters were in on the plot as well in order to get rid of their mother.
  • In The Order of the Stick, Elan's father's adventuring party has arranged to rule the better part of a continent by doing this. The nominal leaders of the factions involved know nothing about this, as Tarquin's party set themselves up as The Man Behind the Man to a series of puppet rulers, periodically staging their overthrow in favor of new puppets so that the rest of the continent won't clue in on what's happening and band together against them.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • The adaptation of The Partridge Family IN SPACE!: the family gets taken to play a gig on a planet called Texxas (the two X's are deliberate on the part of its supremely stereotyped founder; feels the real Texas is too small for his tastes). When they find the owner will not let them leave, they find some cattle rustlers and try to see if they can get them off the planet. Surprise! In order to make his Texxas even more Texas than Texas, the owner runs all the outlaw gangs as well. In short, the family has to find another way off.
  • Steven Universe: Who would've thought that Pink Diamond was the ruler of Earth and Rose Quartz, the leader of the very army she was opposing? Unlike most examples, this was not done to prolong conflict: Pink Diamond wanted to end the colonization of Earth upon seeing the life that already existed there, but the other Diamonds wouldn't allow it. She started the rebellion to create an excuse for Homeworld to leave Earth—which then resulted in the other Diamonds undermining Pink's authority as ruler to stay and crush the rebels. They insisted that the colonization would be completed as long as Pink was there to rule, which only led to Pink faking her shattering and assuming the identity of Rose Quartz permanently. She got her wish when the remaining Diamonds left Earth and corrupted all the Gems on it in vengeance for Pink's "death".
  • In Stretch Armstrong and the Flex Fighters, Malcolm Kane is Rook Unlimited's Head of Security and essentially acts as Jonathan Rook's right-hand man and the Flex Fighters' crime-fighting mentor. Season two reveals that he also leads the terrorist organization known as the Tech Men, which antagonizes Rook and the heroes throughout the series. Kane infiltrated Rook's company for decades to take it over, use its resources for the Tech Men's goals, and get revenge on Rook for rejecting their recruitment offers and killing one of their operatives.
  • In Young Justice, Lex Luthor is invited to help with the reunification of North and South Rhelasia, while Ra's al Ghul hired Cheshire and Sportsmaster to assassinate Luthor. The assassination fails thanks to both Red Arrow and Aqualad's interference and Luthor's assistant's cybernetic enhancement, with the latter impressing both Rhelasian leaders enough to proceed with reunification. However, it is revealed that the assassination was a ploy by both Luthor and al Ghul to bring Rhelasia together under the guidance of their organization, The Light.

    Conspiracy Theories 
  • Look at old photos of Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis, the two leaders in the American Civil War. It's obviously the same guy. He wears a big fake beard as "Lincoln" and a swoopy wig as "Davis", but the cheekbones and eyes are identical. Then there is the squirrel!
  • During the 2016 US Presidential Election, some conspiracy prone commentators wondered if Donald Trump was being deliberately outrageous in his comments to undermine fellow Republican candidates and turn voters on the fence towards Hillary Clinton (Trump having given to the Clintons in previous campaigns being a prime piece of evidence). It died down as the General Election neared and Trump was shown to be as aggressive and outrageous against Clinton as he had been against any Republican contender, though it did get a nod in some of his more political missteps. Ultimately, if this was the play, it Went Horribly Wrong as Trump defeated Clinton. Though believers in the conspiracy theory still insist that Trump and Clinton were conspiring together, regardless of all evidence of both political incompatibility and personal animosity between them, with the premise being that a Trump presidency was an acceptable Plan B for them (or whatever shadowy cabal of lizard-men they were working for).
  • A longstanding urban myth, at least in Spain, has it that Pepsi and Coca-Cola actually belong to the same organization, and the bitter rivalry between them is just a massive publicity stunt.

    Real Life 
  • Due to the way corporate ownership works, one or more shareholders can easily wind up on the boards of two rival corporations. There are laws meant to prevent abuse of these situations, but they've got enough exploitable curlicues that strange stuff happens nonetheless.
  • Console Wars:
    • The Fifth Generation of Console Video Games: MIPS made the CPUs for both the PlayStation and Nintendo 64.
    • The Seventh Generation of Console Video Games: IBM made the CPUs for all 3 of the major competitors this time, with the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Wii all using PowerPC chips designed by them. The Xbox 360's CPU was actually derived from main core of PlayStation 3's Cell Processor; Microsoft approached IBM asking for a multicore chip to use in their console, and IBM looked at their contract with Sony and realized that there was no clause prohibiting them from selling part of the Cell technology to another console manufacturer. ATI/AMD also backed two of the competitors, making the GPUs for both the Wii and Xbox 360.
  • During the medieval, renaissance, and early-modern periods, Europe was basically run by a few closely interrelated families. The monarch of one warring nation could easily be prominent in the line of succession for the other's throne.
    • One example of exactly how closely related opposing sides could be shows up in World War I, where King George V of England and Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany were first cousins (they had a set of grandparents in common). George was also the first cousin of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia through the OTHER set of grandparents. Wilhelm and Nicolas, though, were only third cousins (though Wilhelm was the first cousin of Nicholas' wife).
    • More than one conflict was actually resolved by a "personal union," where the same person simply became the ruler of both states. Most famously in the English-speaking world, Queen Elizabeth I ended the off-and-on war between England and Scotland by giving the English throne to King James VI of Scotland (who afterward was also James I of England). Since James was Elizabeth's cousin and she had no children and no living siblings, nor were there any living heirs to her siblings, he had one of the strongest claims to the English throne even if she hadn't named him her heir, but doing so removed all doubt. Sometimes a personal union would eventually lead to a permanent merger of the states involved, as was the case when England and Scotland became the Kingdom of Great Britain, but more often the situation was temporary.
    • Another famous example: During the Reformation, Charles, soon to be named Holy Roman Emperor, inherited three separate kingdoms (plus additional dukedoms and provinces) from three separate dynasties in rapid succession to possess for a time the world's largest empire. He was Charles I, Charles II, Charles III, Charles IV, or Charles V, depending on which part of his empire he was visiting at the time.
    • Yet another example from the Reformation Era. The French Wars of Religion were ended when the Protestant leader, Henry of Navarre, formally converted to Catholicism and became King Henry IV, with the condition that the Protestants were granted various rights and privileges in return (e.g. the right to maintain fortified towns).
  • Jonathan Wild was a British criminal kingpin, who, from 1718 to 1725, claimed the title of "Thief-taker General", i.e. the chief Bounty Hunter of London, given how the city did not have an organized police force until 1749. During those seven years, Wild enjoyed a total monopoly on crime in London, but his downfall came when people started realizing what he was doing, and he was hanged.