When I hand her the keys to a shiny new Australia!"
Say the Big Bad is about to Take Over the World, but you have something he needs. What would you ask for in return for your help? And you can think big; after all, he does have the entire world to offer, no need to feel constrained to beg to be spared.
Or maybe you are the Big Bad, and some wannabe villain has some vital piece of Applied Phlebotinum you need to see your evil plan through, but not the means by which to carry it out himself. What could you offer him to get what you want, and even play to his ego so he won't think to stab you in the back and take your hard-earned godhood for himself?
And even if you already have everything you need to carry out your Evil Plan, nothing says you care quite like promising your most faithful minion a good-sized piece of the planet he's about to help you conquer. Whatever the case might be, there is one thing every would-be world dominator needs to ensure that their plan is foolproof and no untoward betrayals go off in the last five minutes of their doomsday clock:
That's right, Australia. Australia isn't a very important country (thanks a lot, mate), but is still an enormous piece of real estate, so the Big Bad can make it look like an impressive gift while keeping his mitts on the more important countries like the US, the UK, Russia, China, etc. Also, it has 25% of the uranium in the world and is the largest exporter of beef by... quite a large margin. There are also a lot of reasons it's the perfect base of operations for a junior supervillain, though this may itself be a good reason the Big Bad should rethink giving it to said ambitious subordinate.
Or, well, it doesn't actually need to be Australia. Any big chunk of territory will do, as long as it makes the junior supervillain a powerful ruler while leaving the senior one a much more powerful ruler. Note that any opinions actual Australians (or denizens of whatever other country) may have on this plan are irrelevant (Oi!); see also Throw-Away Country.
Not to be confused with shiny new Australium.
Examples with Australia specifically:
- In the graphic novel version of Wanted; Mr. Rictus has a chip on his shoulder because he was slighted, given Australia when the Legion of Doom divvied up the globe. To add to the unfairness, another villain was in fact given two entire continents: North and South America.
- Empire's Golgoth conquers Australia first. It's a good starting point, after all.
- In the House of M Incredible Hulk tie-in, The Hulk takes over Australia and declared himself President.
- In Mother, May I (Take Over The World) (MSTing here), a hilariously bad Fan Fic featuring the world's most evil people - among them Saddam Hussein, Hitler, Pikachu, and an increasingly bemused Martin Luther King, Jr. - Fidel Castro is annoyed to be given Australia.
- In Queen of All Oni, Jade, after her FaceHeel Turn, jokingly says that the ultimate goal of the Shadow Hand (her recreation of the Dark Hand) is to take over Australia (Jade is smart enough to realize that world domination never ends well for those who try it) and gets mad at the Enforcers when they take her seriously.
- Bit of continuity fridge brilliance when one considers that the Book of Ages, one of the most powerful magical artifacts in the series, is hidden in the Australian outback.
- In Harry Potter: Wishing For a Friend Dumbledore's original intentions were to conquer the world and give Voldemort Australia to play with.
- In Betrayed Voldemort offers it to Lucius Malfoy.
Voldemort: But our goals are the same in this case. Take over the Ministry [of Magic] and eventually the entire world. Perhaps I will permit you to govern Australia if you please me.
- In Superman II, Lex Luthor wanted it in return for taking General Zod to the Daily Planet (to lure Superman out of hiding). Arguably the Trope Maker, as a couple places have listed the film as being the inspiration for the use of this trope. (See the Wanted example above).
- In Cats & Dogs, Mr. Tinkles secures the support of the world's mouse population by promising them a massive quantity of cheese and the continent of Australia, which he has convinced them is a bastion of the dairy industry.
"With dogs out of the way, then cats will overthrow the humans and you will be given your much-deserved reward: 16 pounds of Monterrey Jack and the continent of Australia!"
- In Comic Con Episode IVA Fans Hope, Joss Whedon comments, "When people say the geeks have inherited the Earth, I say (...) how much of the Earth do I get? Can I have Australia?"
- In Good Omens, Adam plans to give Australia to Dog, since it's got lots of wide-open space for him to run around in. Played with, however, as he also gives away the rest of the "important" countries, because to Adam the only really important place in the world is his hometown, Lower Tadfield.
- Australia as a Red Shirt: Australia is the first to be blown up in the nuclear war of Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles.
- In Colin Mason's nuclear-threat novel The Hostage, "The hostage is the continent of Australia", blatantly advertised on the cover of the first pb edition.
- In Harry Turtledove's World War series, Earth is invaded by aliens in 1942. The aliens are from a desert-like planet and as far as they're concerned most of Earth is too cold or too humid. But they love the climate of central Australia and make it their main settlement after evicting all the humans.
- In The Iron Man by Ted Hughes (the inspiration for the animated movie The Iron Giant), the Space-Bat-Angel-Dragon lands on Australia and sprawls out across most of the continent. (Sadly, the Space-Bat-Angel-Dragon does not appear in the film version.)
- Mitkey is a well-intentioned uplifted mouse rather than a villain in Fredric Brown's science fiction novelette "The Star Mouse," but he proposes that the intelligence of all mice on Earth be raised to approximately human level, and then the mice promise to stop being pests (and work with humans to drive rats into extinction) in exchange for Australia:
"Ve could call it Mousetralia, und instead uff Sydneynote ve vill call der capital Dissney..."
- The novel L'homme qui dormit cent ans by Henri Bernay tells the story of an American who sleeps for a century and cannot cope with the changes. The problem is resolved by having him move to Australia, where life is exactly the way it was in America when he fell asleep.
- Doctor Who: In "The Hungry Earth"/"Cold Blood", the Doctor suggests that Australia be given to the Silurians as a new homeland, which pissed off some Australian fans.
- Even Gilligan's Island did this one, with Mr and Mrs Howell discussing buying an island in the Pacific, and deciding on Australia.
- It's not always villains. In the 90s Nickelodeon comedy Radioactive, one character has a fantasy where they become rich enough to buy two planets. "Oh.. and I also bought Australia."
- In Stargate Continuum Baal plans to divide up Earth amongst the System Lords, giving half of Australia to Camulus and the other half to the Free Jaffa Nation.
- An early video game example: implied in the 1985 Activision game Hacker. If the player guides the underground tunnel robot too close to Australia, the following message is displayed on-screen:
- In No One Lives Forever, "the continent of Australia" is listed as one of H.A.R.M.'s ludicrous demands after threatening to unleash near-undetectable human time bombs to heavily populated areas.
- In Katawa Shoujo, during a game of RISK with student council president Shizune, she offers to let you have Australia - if you promise to join the council.
- In Mass Effect 3, if Urdnot Wreav is in command of the krogan during the final battle, he agrees to help humanity... so long as he gets Australia in the bargain. He then says he's just kidding. For now.
- Sheeva's arcade ending in Mortal Kombat 9 involves the Shokan taking control of Australia with the permission of world leaders. While this is a possibly reference to Lex Luthor in Superman II, it's also a Take That! to the Australian censor board, who banned the game.
- In the backstory of Overwatch, after the Omnic Crisis, the Omnics were given the Australian Outback as reparations, which led to the natives instigating an uprising that turned the outback into a full-on wasteland.
- Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog:
- In the novel version of How to Succeed in Evil, the eternally clueless Dr. Loeb offers his "evil efficiency consultant", Edwin Windsor, the continent of Australia. Edwin is insulted.
- This trope is discussed during the finale of Spoiler Warning's playthrough of Mass Effect 2 when one of the commenters points out that villains always seem to want to give away Australia as a bribe.
- The Simpsons: Mr. Burns didn't get Australia for his birthday, but Smithers arranged for its citizens to spell out his name in candles. He didn't even look.
- Danger Mouse: In "The Great Bone Idol," Baron Greenback offers to give Australia to Count Duckula in exchange for finding said idol, with which Greenback could control all the dogs in the world.
Duckula: Bondi Beach...Woolamaloo...Kangaroo stew...yes! Done!
- In LEGO Marvel Superheroes: Avengers Reassembled, Baron Von Strucker joined along Ultron's world domination schemes because he was promised Australia in case of success.
- A possibly unique inversion in "The New Australia", in which a faction of Aussies tried to set up a "Utopian" colony in Paraguay.
Examples with other places:
- In Howard Chaykin's American Flagg! series (which is set in Chicago) the government buys off the rebellious Flagg by giving him Illinois to rule.
- In Secret Invasion, Thunderbolts member Moonstone offers information to the Skrulls in exchange for South America.
- In one Fantastic Four storyline, Evil Sorcerer Nicholas Scratch attempts to summon Eldritch Abomination Shuma-Gorath, who will proceed to conquer the entire universe, in exchange for "my life and Barbados". Surprisingly modest ambition.
- In Carl Barks story "The Golden Helmet", the eponymous helmet was proof an ancient viking named Olaf the Blue was the true owner of North America, theoretically allowing any (alleged) descendant of his to use it to take over the continent. When Donald Duck got the helmet, an attorney offered to help Donald and wanted Canada as his legal fees.
- In the original Villains United miniseries, Mockingbird offers each of the Secret Six a continent if they work for him. The fact that, by default, he left Australia for himself was a subtle clue that Mockingbird was Lex Luthor.
- In Dear Tom Harry has a pretend correspondence with Voldemort to trick the Order of the Phoenix, which is appropriating and reading his fake letters, into removing him from Privet Drive earlier than intended. Part of one of the letters veers into this trope.
I like the idea of being the King of North America. You can have the world. I'll be content in my own little corner of it. But I'll let you have Santa Monica as your holiday place. In your honor, I'll rename it Voldiville. The Americans are especially violent and warlike. With me leading them to victory in your name, we will prevail!
I'm still undecided what to do with Canada. I think I'll give it to my wife as a wedding present. By the way, don't forget to ask Tracey if she wants kids. I think it would be neat to name one after you.
- In The Rise and Fall of Harry J. Potter Rita Skeeter publishes a tell-all book which claims that Harry is a Dark Lord wannabe. Several of the children decide that this would be a good thing.
Teddy Lupin: Imagine if he was secretly ruling the world! So cool. Think he'd give me America? Or a killer pygmy puff? Ooo, how about both!
Victoire Weasley: I want France. Maman, can Uncle Harry give me Paris?
Bill Weasley: You'll have to ask him.
- In Harry Potter and the Rune Stone Path an evil version of Harry states that he killed Hermione when she objected to his intentions to eliminate magic-hating Muggles.
Evil Harry: I was willing to just let her have the Americas, but she insisted we had to fight. I like to think it was her way of apologizing and ensuring I moved on.
- Subverted in the first Superman movie, where Lex Luthor vetoes his henchman's proposed "Otisburg" on the new west coast.
- In The Crown of the Russian Empire, or The Elusives Again a pretender to the Russian throne in exile offers Poland to one of the bad guys to make sure he'll help him, not the other pretender.
- The villain in Wild Wild West proposes dividing the United States and giving the territories back to the previous European owners, setting aside the northwest part of the country for himself.
- In Flash Gordon, Ming offers Flash a Shiny New Earth if he'll switch sides, or at least an Unshiny Old Earth that's been decimated by disasters. Presumably Ming would keep the rest of the solar system for himself. Or he just wanted Flash as Ming's viceroy on Earth, just like all the other princes rule the moons of Mongo in Ming's name. Ming would be the overall ruler and Flash Gordon would have to obey Ming. The decimated Earth would be re-populated by Ming and Dale's offspring.
- In Escape from L.A., Map-To-The-Stars Eddie mentions wanting a small territory of his own (Wisconsin) as his reward for turning Snake over to Cuervo.
- In The Patriot, Tavington asks General Cornwallis for the state of Ohio in return for winning battles in South Carolina.
- M. Bison in Street Fighter offers to share the country with Sagat rather than paying him for his services with "mere money". Sagat insists on cash payment.
Bison: As for payment, why settle for mere money? After I defeat the A.N, what if I were to share the country with you?Sagat: When the war is over, we'll see how much of the country is left. In the meantime, let's see the color of your money.
- In the director's cut of Superman II, Luthor ups the ante by telling Zod the Fortress of Solitude's location in exchange for Cuba.
- In Tom Holt's Who's Afraid of Beowulf?, the Big Bad offers someone China as a bribe for his assistance.
- In the novel Soon I Will Be Invincible Doctor Impossible contemplates offering Egypt to a fellow villain, the Pharaoh.
- Emperor Mollusk Versus The Sinister Brain: "Don't ask me why I needed Scranton and Sheboygan."
- In the fourth Artemis Fowl book, Opal's henchmen stick around because she promised them Barbados.
- In the Novelization of Revenge of the Sith there is an extended We Can Rule Together scene between Palpatine and Anakin. Palpatine essentially says, "Join me and you can have anything you want. Name it." Anakin half-jokingly replies, "Corellia." Without missing a beat, Palpatine asks, "Just the one planet, or all Five Brothers?" (Corellia is the capital planet of a five-planet system.)
- In the novel The Android's Dream, a character responds to "Are you trying to bribe me?" with, "No, I've been bribing you. Now I'm trying to buy you outright... I could see my way to letting you run some portion of the globe. I hear New Zealand is nice."
- This pretty much sums up Coil's approach to recruiting in Worm. Especially in his offer to Taylor that he will help improve the city districts her father has long tried to restore.
- While trying to convince a Nazi officer he wants to defect in Hogan's Heroes, Colonel Hogan says that he sees how the war is going and all he wants at the end of it is to own Cleveland.
- In the season finale of BBC drama/comedy Being Human the bad guy (head vampire) says he would have given one of the main characters (the one that's also a vampire) South America if he had joined him.
- In Lexx, the insipid U.S. President tries to buy off the equally dim (and illiterate) Stanley by anointing him King of Newfoundland ("a beautiful island paradise of wine, women and constant song") via some scribbled lines and a signature on Presidential letterhead. Later, Xev is tempted with "her own beautiful island full of gardens and antiques" (England), by the head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
- In Supernatural, Dick Roman, leader of the Leviathans, promises Crowley free range for demons in Canada if he helps stop the Winchesters.
- An early episode of Sabrina the Teenage Witch has Sabrina encountering Newt, one of Salem's co-conspirators in his scheme for world domination. Newt notes that he was promised Denmark.
- Blake's 7. Servalan tries to convince Vila to surrender the Liberator by offering him a planetary governorship. "Earth, if you like." Vila looks like he's actually contemplating it, before Dayna reminds him of Servalan's Chronic Backstabbing Disorder. Though this trope only applies because Servalan rules an empire spanning hundreds of planets, even if Earth Is the Centre of the Universe.
- Rome has the second triumvirate of Mark Antony, Octavian and Lepidus (the latter treated as a Butt-Monkey by the series) arguing over how to divide the Roman world they've just conquered between them. There's tension between Mark Antony and Octavian over who will govern the East with all its riches and who will govern the capital Rome and the West, but when Lepidus asks what he gets, Mark Antony and Octavian offhandedly toss him Africa, after which he is never heard from in the series again.
- In Angel Moxie, the Sealed Evil in a Can offers Tristan France if she just helps free her. Tristan Accepts. Evil betrays Tristan. Tristan is not pleased.
- In Narbonic's arc Professor Madblood and the Doppelganger Gambit, Madblood offers Helen her choice of world continents as consolation prize for breaking a date.
Madblood: PEOPLE OF EARTH, YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE! I choose to address you as a 300-mile holographic projection against the ionosphere solely to secure the attention of Helen Narbon, whom I regret I am unable to join for dinner this evening. I apologize profusely and assure Miss Narbon that when Earth is brought under my heel, she, the planet's loveliest blossom, may have the continent of her choice.
Madblood: Except Europe. Mother dibsied it.
- In Real Life Comics, Tony offers Greg Zimbabwe when he eventually takes over the world. Greg accepts because he likes the sound of the name.
- Kim Possible
- In one episode, Drakken attempts to get Shego to help him in his latest schemes by offering her Greenland. It doesn't work when she points out that Greenland isn't green and demands Iceland instead. Drakken is quite upset by having to give up the green one to her.
- Another example, when Drakken is trying to bribe Ron for their last morsel of food:
Drakken: Name your price, Stoppable... power, glory! When I take over the world, you can have a continent... Any continent! [pauses] Not Europe.
- Invader Zim has promised the moon to his insane Robot Buddy GIR after he has devastated the world, according to the episode "Tak the Hideous New Girl".
- In Spider-Man: The Animated Series The Kingpin once again assembles the Insidious Six as part of a scheme to Take Over the World. While fighting Spidey Rhino claims he's going to be the new "King of New Jersey", causing Spidey to snark that if the Kingpin is getting the world and he is only giving him New Jersey, Rhino needs a better agent.
- In Xiaolin Showdown after Wuya takes over the world during Raymondo's FaceHeel Turn, she tells him he can have anything: "Toys, money, Canada".
- Cronus from Class of the Titans, when he thinks his victory is guaranteed, takes Agnon aside and has this to say:
Cronus: You know, you've always been my favorite, Agnon. How about a country to rule? Hm? How would you like to rule New Zealand?
- Subverted in Superman: The Animated Series. Darkseid has captured and brainwashed Superman into thinking he's his adopted son who grew up on Apokolips. After a successful battle, he then offers Superman the planet Earth to conquer and rule for himself as per this trope. Superman has no memory of having been there and so doesn't realise how Darkseid is using him.
- In the Grand Finale to Avatar: The Last Airbender, Fire Lord Ozai gives the entire Fire Nation to his daughter Azula before declaring himself the new "Phoenix King" of the entire world. This still counts because, with Ozai as a world-spanning overlord, Fire Lord Azula would remain subordinate to him.
- Early American politician Aaron Burr fled to the Louisiana Territory in disgrace after killing Alexander Hamilton in a duel. He offered to help start a revolt from Mexico (possibly detaching some American territory as well) in order to create a new country which he would presumably rule. Note that Burr was brought to trial and found not guilty, so the scheme may have existed chiefly in the minds of his opponents. More precisely, while there was evidence of a LOT of shady shenanigans, whether Burr was trying to start an actual revolt was undetermined.
- The infamous Zimmerman Telegraph from World War I promised the nation of Mexico Texas (notable to Mexico at the time for its oil and Revolution) and whatever other parts of the Western US it lost from the Mexican-American War if Mexico came in on the side of the Germans. Note that the US was still officially neutral at this point. Furthermore, Mexico had very little in the way of a domestic armaments industry, and with the European countries producing at full capacity for their own forces, the only possible source of war supplies would have been the USA. On top of that, Mexico was also bogged down in a three-to-five-way civil war (how many sides there were varied depending on day of the week) which had already seen several US interventions when one or more of the major players felt like pissing off their neighbors to the north, and none of those "interventions" ended well for the Mexicans involved. Germany didn't really think the scheme would work apart from causing the Americans some headaches. Conspiracy Theorists like to point to the extreme stupidity of this scheme to insinuate Germany did not actually send the Telegram and it was a forgery by the US to justify entry into the war, but then again that's not how those things usually go. The evidence indicates that the German chancellery, foreign ministry, and military were not on the same page and that the offer was not approved by the entire German government.
- A new updated version of Monopoly is called "Monopoly: Here and Now, the World Edition." Alongside being updated for inflation and advances in technology, the Atlantic City streets are scrapped and major world cities are used. This leads to conversations such as, "I'll trade you London for Barcelona." "How much do you want for Tokyo?" "Would anybody like to buy Rome?"
- In a sense, this is roughly how feudalism works. Someone who owns a lot of land (like a king or emperor) hands out parcels of land to his subordinates in exchange for military service; those subordinates then hand out smaller pieces of that land to their subordinates, and so on and so forth.