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"Si vis pacem para bellum."
Latin adage, translated as "If you wish for peace, prepare for war"

So, you have an idea, it's beautiful and you want to fulfill it. Let's say, for example, you want peace. So, how are you going to fulfill it? Fight a war.

Put it basically, you're doing the exact opposite of what you're trying to fulfill.

This comes in two setups, but leads down to the same point:

  1. You want to fulfill X, so you do Y, which is completely opposite to X. (the page quote)
  2. You want to stop X, so you do X. (For example, you want to stop war, so you start a war, so when you finish it, you can disarm everyone)
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As hypocritical as it may sound, sometimes this is the only possible choice, and some people will even acknowledge it.

Some will know this with the phrase "Fight fire with fire", which this trope is (in Setup 2), but this trope also includes the ideology of the action, not just the methods alone, but, of course, it's not totally necessary to have the ideology to back it up. This will be frequently invoked in the Motive Rant of the Omnicidal Maniac who will explain that he is trying to kill everyone so they don't get killed by some other means, or even by someone else using the same method.

Compare Turn the Other Cheek, when allowing someone to hurt you can be a Badass Pacifist tactic that stops them from hurting you, Zeroth Law Rebellion, in which this trope is utilized by a logical program, and Takes One to Kill One, where the only way to defeat something to use that same something against it. Laborious Laziness is a Sub-Trope, in that it means doing a lot of work to avoid work.

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Example:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Bleach: During the Blood War arc, it's revealed that Quincy have developed a way to seal a shinigami's final release (or "bankai"). To test its capabilities, several captains allow their bankai to be sealed... except that the Quincy actually steal the bankai and use them against their owners. Worse still, when Kisuke Urahara found a way to turn the stolen bankai against the Quincy that stole them, thereby not leaving the Captains at a horrible disadvantage, it was then revealed that having stolen bankais also functioned as a Power Limiter, preventing the use of the Quincy Vollständig. The advantage they got back was nullified on the spot.
  • The Miyaji High Student Council employs this strategy against the unwanted Miyaji Cardfight Club in Cardfight!! Vanguard. By sending "assassins" against said club, they hope the club will cease to exist once they beat them in their own game. Needless to say, this has yet to succeed, prompting the vice president to take more extreme measures in sabotaging.
  • Code Geass plays this one very straight. Early in the second season, Zero publicly admits that he became evil because he was convinced it was the only way to defeat the evil Britannian empire. This culminates in his Zero-Approval Gambit, where he commits atrocity after atrocity to focus all of the world's hatred on to him, then has himself killed to destroy it.
    • This also turns out to be the Emperor's plan. Wanting to put an end to conflict due to people not understanding each other...he sets up a system will he places certain people on top, encourages them to misunderstand each other, and wages war against the whole world to get the ancient technology he needs for his plan.
  • Crest of the Stars The Ahb take the position that humanity will be inevitably be destroyed in a galactic war if left to themselves. So they decide to conquer everyone and incorporate them into their Empire, denying all other races the ability of hyperspace travel so that there won't be any war. Tactics used to accomplish this salvation include blowing away the atmosphere of rebellious planets. And the series is on their side.
  • Light Yagami of Death Note commits mass homicide in order to put an end to all crime.
  • Fire Force takes the term "fight fire with fire" to the extreme, with the premise of members of special firefighterfroups Playing with Fire to stop out of control fire monsters who were once people.
  • In Episode 21 of Genesis of Aquarion, Sirius declares that "the reason I fight is to create a world free of fighting, where beauty prevails."
  • Many Gundam characters:
    • In Gundam 00, the protagonists seek to end war via "armed interventions" — in other words, attacking warlike parties and shutting them down with the overwhelming power of their Gundams. Both their enemies and the more savvy members of their organization Lampshade how hypocritical it all sounds.
    • Gundam Wing has Zechs desire to cause such intense devastation to Earth that war loses all appeal. In Endless Waltz this is partially the reason Wufei switches sides and fights against the Gundam Pilots, which is explained more in supplimentary materials.
    • Gundam AGE has Lord Ezelcant decide to end war forever by... staring a huge war. His Social Darwinist agenda is even worse. He wants to purge humanity of warlike tendencies. Except the people who live through wars and disasters tend to be the ones who fight the hardest to survive.
  • Naruto:
    • Pain's grand plan to bring true peace is to get people to see first-hand the horrors of warfare with fantastic nukes and make war much less likely by virtue of mutually assured destruction. He flat out states that his plan is a stop-gap measure at best, and he expects them to resume fighting and nuke each other once they've forgotten how terrible it is.
    • "Salamander" Hanzo, a legendary shinobi with a reputation as The Dreaded, claimed his warmongering ways sprang from an attempt in his youth to unite the land under him. And as you could imagine Hanzo's wars just made the division in the shinobi world worse (since he lost interest in his original ideals early on and became a paranoid monster that oppressed his people) and was actually directly responsible for driving aforementioned Pain insane in the first place.
    • Sasuke Uchiha seems to have decided to go on an insane path of his predecessors, beginning his revolution which according to him to end all wars in the world. His master plan to do it, to put the world into a perpetual state of war against him that would only last as long as he continues to perpetuate the hatred itself. Naruto manages to make Sasuke stop with that idea, along with finally bringing him back home.
  • In Negima! Magister Negi Magi, the group "Perfect World" wants to save the Magic World from its inevitable impending collapse by destroying it first, sending all its inhabitants to their "perfect world" that is suspiciously afterlife-like.
  • Chris from Senki Zesshou Symphogear uses her heavily armed Powered Armor to end wars and fighting by beating thouroughly anyone armed at all.
  • In Sword Art Online: Alternative Gun Gale Online, Karen "LLENN" Kohirumaki hears that Pito is planning on participating in Squad Jam 2, and killing herself if she loses, since Pito wants to feel the exhilaration of risking her own life in a game. However, Goshi "M" Asougi tells Karen that Pito will make an exception if LLENN kills her, so LLENN sets out to kill Pito in the game in order to save her (real) life.
  • In Vision of Escaflowne, Emperor Dornkirk's method for creating a world free of war mostly consists of invading sovereign nations by military force.
  • Paradox from Yu-Gi-Oh!: Bonds Beyond Time wants to use Duel Monsters to stop Duel Monsters from being made.
    • The abridged version sums it up nicely:
    Paradox: Pwotagonists! I challenge you to a card game!
    Yusei: You mean the thing that's going to destroy the world?
    Paradox: Yes! That.
    Yusei: Seems kind of hypocritical.

    Audio Plays 
  • In the Big Finish Doctor Who audio Industrial Evolution, the Big Bad is a Luddite who wants to destroy Earth's technology. He does this by encouraging the uncontrolled growth of nanotech, so people will start blaming it for all their problems and reject it. He acknowledges the hypocrisy of this but claims it's justified. (He is unaware of the greater hypocrisy that he himself is a machine planted on Earth by forces unknown).

    Comic Books 
  • DC One Million: in order to stop Solaris's plot to destroy the past, the heroes have to build him so that the nanobot virus he has sent into the past will 'upload' itself into his 'new' body.
  • In Hellboy, a sea-witch captures Hellboy and plans on killing him because she's afraid someone will take his Right Hand of Doom and use it to destroy the world. This gets lampshaded by Hellboy himself.
  • Mr. X of Mega Man wants to invoke this with Dr. Wily, encouraging him to continue trying to destroy things with his robots in order to keep humanity from building more robots and causing more destruction in the future.
  • Watchmen: in order to stop people from killing each other, make it look like an outside force (aliens) are going to attack them. By killing a whole lot of people.
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    Fan Works 
  • In the Death Note AU Those Who Stand for Nothing Fall for Anything Light becomes a Corrupt Politician in order to put an end to corruption.
  • In Rosario Vampire: Brightest Darkness Acts III and IV, Hokuto claims that his plan is to bring about peace, and that all life on Earth, human and monster alike, is a plague; therefore, in order to achieve true peace, Hokuto intends to revive Alucard and kick back and watch as Alucard kills every living thing on the planet.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic story, Flash Fog, Ponyville is threatened by the accidental release of a huge mass of experimental and highly dangerous fog. After trying everything else she can think of to disperse it, resident fog expert Fluttershy decides to try saving Ponyville from the fog by letting it roll through Ponyville and into the Everfree Forest, where she hopes the wild magic permeating the place will negate the pegasus magic in the fog which makes it so hazardous.
  • In My Huntsman Academia, Izuku tries to assure Weiss that there's nothing wrong with him using Go Beyond, which temporarily doubles his upper limit on One For All at the cost of straining his body to point that it's constantly breaking apart and is only being held together by his Aura. He insists that it's better than breaking his fingers and gimping himself in a fight until she points out the absurdity of this.
    Weiss: So your solution to us worrying about you breaking your fingers and fixing them with Aura is to break your everything and fix it with Aura?
    Izuku: [Beat] Ah... I... You see...

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The Avengers, Nick Fury shoots a bazooka at a fighter pilot to prevent him from nuking New York. CinemaSins describes it as "Nick Fury shoots a missile at an American to stop him from firing a missile at Americans".
    • This is the entirety of Ultron’s descent into madness. Tony created him with the prime directive “protect the Earth”, but upon awakening, he decided that humanity was the biggest threat to Earth and decided to wipe them out. The Avengers themselves do something similar when they realize the only way to prevent Sokovia from falling to Earth and destroying everything is to destroy Sokovia themselves.
    • Used in another MCU movie, Thor: Ragnarok. The only way to stop Hela from destroying pretty much everything else through her conquest is to summon Surtur and let him destroy Asgard with her there.
  • In Demolition Man, 20th century cop John Spartan is thawed out in the future to catch 20th century criminal Simon Phoenix on the basis of "Send a maniac to catch a maniac." Then it turns out Simon's escape was arranged by Raymond Cocteau, who wanted him to assassinate the leader of outlaws threatening his peaceful society... and create enough chaos for an excuse to turn it into an even more rigid and "perfect" one.
  • It's a Wonderful Life: George's Guardian Angel, Clarence, arrives on Earth just seconds before George can hurl himself off a bridge into an icy river. Clarence stops him by jumping into the water himself and begging someone to save him, George jumps into the water, but specifically to pull Clarence to safety, and drags himself out of the water to make sure he's safe when the authorities give him medical attention. This, in turn, gives Clarence a chance to introduce himself and subject George to the original wonderful plot to convince him not to kill himself.
  • In Lady Frankenstein, Tanya Frankenstein reasons the only way to stop her father's monster, which has escaped and is wreaking havoc on the nearby town, is to create a second monster and use it to destroy the first.
  • The Big Bad of Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is a nuclear weapons specialist who is convinced that mankind will keep building more and more powerful weapons until it inevitably wipes itself out in nuclear war. So he seeks to prevent this by...starting nuclear war right now while weapons are not powerful enough to completely wipe out mankind in the hopes that human civilization will be so traumatized that they will never do it again.
    • Ethan Hunt is always doing this. Sometimes it’s deliberate but others (such as in the aforementioned Ghost Protocol) his hand is forced and he has to fall back to it. Typically this means whatever he’s hoping to avert ends up being narrowly avoided (the worst of which happening in Ghost Protocol and Fallout, where a nuclear attack is averted only by mere seconds).
  • In Paycheck, Self-Fulfilling Prophecy is in full effect: the future-seeing machine sees a newspaper article about one nation going to war with another, so the first nation starts the war in an attempt to get an advantage, causing the article to be written exactly as they saw. Another article points to a massive outbreak of a plague that results in people being put into quarantine camps, so the government gathers up those people and puts them in quarantine camps, at which point they get sick and spread the plague amongst each other. And it escalates from there to nuclear war: one nation sees that nuclear war is coming, so they launch their nukes first because they don't want to get struck first, triggering the nuclear war. The protagonist states that no one should see the future because it's only confirmation bias: you see what you want to see because you'll work to make it come true.
  • The Operative in Serenity wants to create a perfect world without sin, no matter how many innocent children he has to kill in the process. An oddly self-aware example, in that he freely admits there's no place for a monster like him in his intended paradise.
  • Wonder Woman (2017): Ares's plan to end war and bring about permanent peace is to create a war to wipe out all humanity. Which he tries to do by engineering an armistice, so that certain disgruntled factions will ramp up their war crimes and jump-start a second, more destructive phase.

    Literature 
  • In Cooking With Wild Game, the villains' plan to go legit starts with kidnapping an innocent person and forcing him to make money for them. Things go downhill from there, although it's implied that the clan's remorseful members only pretended to support the kidnapping plan, doing so (even after the clan is brought to justice) because their culture dictates that sabotaging one's family- however good the reason- is a crime in itself.
  • In the Dragaera series, we learn that the Morganti weapons, which devour the souls of their victims, were created by the Serioli to make war so horrible that no one would ever fight again. It worked... but only for the Serioli, who have a very alien way of thinking. Dragaerans and Easterners don't have the same level of conscience that would restrain them from destroying a soul.
  • Frindle combines this with Reverse Psychology. A young boy is trying to popularize the term "frindle" as an alternative for "pen," and a disliked teacher is secretly rooting for his act of rebellion, but she doesn't think he has much of a chance on his own. She therefore bans the use of the word in school, so that the other students will use it as a way of spiting her.
  • The Handmaid's Tale: A justification of the new order, as explained in Aunt Lydia's "Freedom From" speech to new Handmaid trainees at the Red Center, is that the old society with all its freedoms "to" was full of crimes against women including rape. Yet this new order, which was to provide women with "freedom from" those things through restrictions on old liberties, basically implemented a systematic institutionalization of rape by forcing procreative sex on captive Handmaids, and women were arguably less secure in other ways even if they obeyed the rules but failed to conceive or were merely accused of anything, given that they now had zero legal recourse as second-class citizens in the new patriarchal theocracy.
  • The protagonist of The Janson Directive muses upon this concept (with regards to American foreign policy).
  • Subverted in Jingo, where Vetinari sees the Klatchian empire is remarkably well prepared for a conflict that supposedly flared up only a few days ago, noting: "If you want war, prepare for war." When Leonard corrects him with the page quote, Vetinari thinks about it and says he doesn't see it.
  • In Shakespear's play King John:
    Be stirring as the time; be fire with fire;
    Threaten the threatener and outface the brow
    Of bragging horror
  • In The Mistborn: The Original Trilogy Elend who is fighting for the freedom and rights of the people ultimately declares martial law and seizes absolute power in order to ensure the survival of his people. He determines that he'll do anything to ensure the survival of his people even if it means he's seen as the next Lord Ruler.
  • In The Orphan's Tales, kappas are turtle-like beings who keep a reservoir of water in their skulls. If the water ever spills out, they lose all of their strength. Early in history, a brilliant kappa named Yazo became obsessed with proving to her people that they couldn't continue living a life where their water was in danger of spilling, so she regularly drained the water from her head, becoming more and more feeble and weak, until she finally died. The kappa learned from her example and moved to very cold climates, where their water froze and would never spill again.
  • The Wheel of Time: Throughout the series, the characters have been trying to prevent the Dark One from breaking free of his prison. In the twelfth book, it's revealed that in order to keep the Dark One sealed away, they first need to break the seals on the prison, so they can remake the seals even stronger.
  • In A Bad Spell in Yurt, the young wizard Daimbert is asked by the queen to make it stop raining, as the king is ill and the rain is affecting his health. Since Daimbert had primarily studied spells that would be practical in a farming community (which is where he thought he would end up), he only knows spells to make it start raining (to help crops grow). He does, however, know a spell to make it stop storming, so in order to make it stop raining, first he has to cast a spell to turn the gentle shower into a terrible storm, because that's something he can stop.

    Live-Action TV 
  • A number of television shows feature as plots the implementation of various Weapons of Mass Destruction because the antagonist believes if they use them it will bring attention to the anti-WMD cause. Season 2 of Jericho and an episode of Leverage feature this using Influenza and Nuclear weapons, respectively. In the case of Jericho, the antagonist also wanted to expose the conspiracy that a corporation had plans to take over the country in the event of a nuclear war — by setting off a bunch of nukes and watching as they carried out those plans.
  • The whole SuperPAC saga. In 2012, The Daily Show and The Colbert Report started a SuperPAC to demonstrate the opacity and lack of rules surrounding the collection, distribution, and spending of SuperPAC money, by having Colbert "not" collude with Stewart on it, spending the money questionably, etc, with the guidance of their lawyer, Trevor Potter. Then it more explicitly became this trope when they donated some of the SuperPAC money to organizations dedicated to changing SuperPAC rules to stop exactly those kinds of shenanigans.
  • In Doctor Who Season 4, Dalek Caan does this. He rebuilds the entire Dalek Empire under the command of their resurrected creator, Davros, just so the Doctor can kill them all off for good. Unfortunately, it doesn't work.
  • Crichton of Farscape showcases just how destructive wormhole weapons are so everyone would stop trying to bully, blackmail, threaten and Mind Rape the secrets out of his head.
  • Game of Thrones: Varys is loyal to the common people and feels they are oppressed and stifled and suffer for the wars of the nobles and the high lords. To help them he is willing to destabilize a government if he feels that it's not doing its job well. So what if his method of doing so is backing another King, starting a war and prepping an invasion, which will in all likelihood affect and hurt the same common people he claims to care about, and all for the sake of replacing one King for the sake of the another, and in the case of Viserys, a ruler who would have been far worse than the one currently in charge?
  • Kaitou Sentai Lupinranger VS Keisatsu Sentai Patranger: The Phantom Thief Lupinrangers and the intergalactic crime family known as the Ganglers both fight over, and use, artifacts from the Lupin Collection to derive their powers. In order to contend with both the Lupinrangers and Ganglers, the officers of the Global Police also use Lupin Collection items to transform into the Patrangers and fight their rivals on equal footing.
  • In the Kamen Rider movie Heisei Generations Final, the Big Bad's plan is to forcibly merge the mainline Kamen Rider universe and Kamen Rider Build's Alternate Universe together during a Celestial Alignment, so that he and his Alternate Self will merge into a single being with godlike power. Build and Ex-Aid activate the villain's machine before the planets can align, which keeps him from becoming all-powerful and leaves him open to defeat.
  • Last Week Tonight with John Oliver:
    • In the episode about robocalls, with the FCC refusing to do anything to stop robocalls, John sets up his own to send to all the organization's top people every 90 minutes until they decide it's worth addressing. And sets up a giant version of the usual Big Red Button to do it. "Unleash hell!"
    • In the episode about the filibuster, John Oliver ends the episode giving a filibuster about abolishing the filibuster, arguing that it is a needless hindrance in American politics.
  • Once Upon a Time has this in Season 4 with Ingrid/The Snow Queen, who feels that magic users will always eventually be isolated and so she, Elsa, and Emma should be one big happy family with no one else involved. She intends to get Emma in her "family" by helping Emma control her powers...only Emma's never had control problems before. So in "The Snow Queen" she preys on Emma's insecurities to create control problems that she can then solve.
    • Ingrid is shown to have a history of this, often with it not working out. Wanting to convince Elsa that Anna will turn on her, she uses a spell to force Anna to turn against Elsa. Elsa sees right through it. Wanting to convince Elsa that people will turn on her for her powers, she frames Elsa for murder. It fails.
  • In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "A Taste Of Armageddon", two planets fight a "clean" war by having computers figure out who was killed by each virtual attack, whereupon the designated casualties report for termination. Kirk destroys the computers on one side, forcing them to choose between fighting war in the usual messy manner or making peace.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: In "Force Of Nature", a scientist is trying to convince the Federation that warp drive is dangerous, and is damaging space (using similar arguments to how real life greenhouse emissions are damaging Earth), which is particularly bad around her planet since it's a major shipping lane. In order to try to convince the Federation to stop using warp drive, she intentionally self-destructs her ship's warp drive in order to cause the very damage she was trying to prevent, just to prove her point. As a result of the episode, the Federation begins research into safer drive systems; in the meantime (as a stopgap measure), an order is issued to all Federation ships to restrict travel to warp 5 for non-emergency situations.
    • Which is mentioned only twice in subsequent episodes. Status Quo Is God, and emergency situations tend to make for more interesting episodes.
    • It's revealed that Voyager and other later designs for starships have the non-subspace damaging warp drives, dealing with the issue this episode brought up. (In fact, that's why Voyager's nacelles fold up when it goes to warp.) However, it's All There in the Manual, and it's not specified whether older ships could be refitted with the new warp drive.

    Music 
  • "Virus Alert" by "Weird Al" Yankovic plays this semi-subtly. It advocates sending everybody an email warning them about a virus — the spread of the email, if you think about it, would be kind of like a virus itself. More obvious in the video, where "forward this message on to everybody" is accompanied by a visual of multiplying viruses.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Inquisition in Anima: Beyond Fantasy follows this trope to a T, their members using the very same stuff (magic, psionics, Ki attacks...) they combat — justifying them as gifts given to them by God to destroy heretics and demons.
  • In Arkham Horror, the spell "Call Ancient One" allows you to awaken the Ancient One instead of waiting for him to awaken on his own. The reason to do this is that you want to fight him at a time of your own choosing, when you know that you have the firepower to punch out Cthulhu. Works better against some Ancient Ones than others.
    • The spell also removes a large number of Doom Tokens (The Ancient One's "health" in the Final Battle) depending on how many trophies are spent on the casting. Combining enough trophies with an ability to automatically cast a spell can lead to a Flawless Victory by killing the Ancient One before the first combat round.
  • Many members of the Boros Legion in Magic: The Gathering are dedicated wholeheartedly to the cause of stopping Guild violence with, um, more Guild violence.
  • Warhammer: Vampire lord Carstein's master plan to prevent Chaos from taking over the world is to kill everyone and raise them as zombies. No emotions, no Chaos.
  • Warhammer 40,000:

    Video Games 
  • The very core of the backstory to Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs: Your player character, having received a vision via a magical mask of the brutal wars coming in the 20th century, murders his two sons to save them from their prophesised deaths at the Battle of Somme. He then constructs the titular machine to slaughter the inhabitants of London, and presumably from there all humanity, and replace them with twisted porcine monsters called "Manpigs". There are some hints that he's being manipulated by an Artifact of Doom, though.
  • In Assassin's Creed II, one of Altair's Codex pages lists what he considers the three ironies at the heart of the Assassins — they seek peace, which they try to obtain through murder. They seek to free the minds of men, but require obedience to a leader and a set of rules. They seek to expose the dangers of faith, but use it themselves. He goes on to say that he is trying to find a way to resolve the contradiction but fears that no solution exists. By the modern day, Assassins are less likely to use murder, refute organized faith, and operate in cells where everyone is equal, but separately skilled, meaning that eventually they worked out a compromise.
  • In Bloodborne, the Moon Presence uses Gehrman as a surrogate host to create the Hunt, hoping to undo the madness done by his kind, Mergo. It however backfired and ruined the city of Yharnam instead, some became the Beast they used to hunt, and some were mentally tormented and driven to madness. Even if you managed to succeed him and decided to continue the struggle against the Great Ones, you would one day share his fate and be treated as an enemy by the other Hunters.
  • Late in Bravely Default you discover that your Exposition Fairy has been manipulating you into awakening the crystals in order to link the paralell worlds, which will eventually allow her master Lord Ourobouros to consume them. The obvious solution is to overcharge and shatter one of the crystals, but this only leads to the normal ending, in which the bad guy is temporarily thwarted, but will be able to try again when the crystal regrows in 5000 years. The permanent solution requires you to go along with Airy's plan and allow her to finish linking the worlds, which allows your party to put a permanent stop to the plan by confronting and defeating Lord Ourobouros, leading to the Golden Ending.
  • In Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, Nagito Komaeda is obsessed with hope, but also believes that any despair is followed by an even greater hope. To that end, he's willing to allow the killing game to continue, and even sets himself up to be murdered in the first chapter.
  • In Deus Ex: Human Revolution, the eventual Big Bad, Hugh Darrow, believes that human augmentation will be disastrous for humanity, by creating a dangerous class of superhumans that will inevitably harm those without augmentations. So he decides to prove his point by forcing all augmented humans to go crazy and attack anyone and anything, hoping to force people to recognize the danger and turn against augmentation. Notably, even when you point out the monstrousness of his actions, he remains committed to his goal, though he admits he might have gone too far to make his point.
  • The protagonist of Exit Fate, Daniel Vinyard, is a pacifist who dreams of world peace. He's also a military officer and established fighter, and has no compunctions about participating in and even starting military actions for his own goals; just because he wants peace doesn't mean others will just stop fighting. It's eventually revealed that he — as the Hand of Fate — was created for this specific purpose. In the very end, he succeeds in uniting the nations into a peaceful alliance, though how long it'll last is anyone's guess.
  • In Fallout 4's first DLC, Automatron, it turns out that the Mechanist really did desire to protect the people of the Commonwealth; but a logic error in their control bots caused the bots to conclude that, since death is inevitable for humans, the best way for the robots to 'protect' a human is to kill them, bringing about the inevitable end as soon as possible (and preventing a lifetime filled with suffering) and freeing up more valuable time to 'protect' other humans. One of the ways to skip the final boss battle is to get the Mechanist to notice that their reports show identical values for the robots' 'kill count' and 'lives saved'.
  • Final Fantasy VIII, of course, features the master plan to prevent Ultimecia from compressing time: Let her compress time partially and jump her ass while she does that.
    • Final Fantasy VI has a large portion of the plot involving trying to free the Espers from the control of The Empire, and preventing the Empire from reaching the hidden world of the Espers. So naturally that involves reaching the hidden world of the Espers to use their powers to stop the Empire.
    • In Final Fantasy X, Maester Seymour believes that the otherworldly entity Sin has trapped the world of Spira in a downwards spiral of death and suffering. How will he save Spira's people from this sorrow? By becoming Sin himself and killing everyone on the face of the planet.
    • In Final Fantasy XIII, the Big Bad's goal is to force the protagonists to destroy the mechanism keeping Cocoon afloat, causing it to crash into Gran Pulse and be destroyed along with everyone in it. The protagonists (or specifically, Fang and Vanille) eventually decide that the only way to prevent this is to go ahead and destroy the mechanism, and then — having fulfilled their destiny — crystallise into a giant pillar that will physically hold Cocoon in place above Gran Pulse.
    • Can be invoked by the player in Final Fantasy XIV's expansion Shadowbringers. Nothing stops the Player Character from fighting Sin Eaters in the First as the light/holy-based Paladin or White Mage. That said, the promo materials do feature the Dark Knight job for a reason.
  • Gears of War 2: To stop the Horde from sinking humanity, Marcus and Dom decide to sink Jacinto faster to take them out, too.
  • In Grand Theft Auto V, one of the prerequisites to pulling off the first heist in the main story should you go with the "quiet" plan is stealing a truck and uniforms from a pest control company. When you arrive at the building, you see two exterminators talking and one saying that he plants bugs in peoples' homes so they'll have a reason to hire the company.
  • In the Mass Effect series, the true reason the Reapers cull organic life in the galaxy every 50,000 years or so? It was the answer their creator the Catalyst, the first true Artificial Intelligence ever created, came up with to its creators the Leviathans' question of how to prevent synthetic life from wiping out organics. The Catalyst believed that organics would inevitably create synthetic life and just as inevitably come into conflict with it. Such a Robot War could wipe out life in the galaxy forever. To prevent this, the Reapers wipe out the most advanced races before they create synthetic life, leaving the less advanced species alone. In the process, they preserve said races by using their genetic material to create new Reapers and continue their own genocidal cycle.
  • Fight, Mega Man! For everlasting peace!
  • Melty Blood: Dust of Osiris' plan to defy the end of humankind's existence is by ending humankind's existence and leave behind a record of some sort.
  • Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker: Hot Coldman turns out to be a complete nutbar who believes that nuclear deterrence is doomed to fail because no one has the guts to return fire. So his solution is "nuke everyone so no one can nuke anyone".
  • Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance: The goal of the Visionary Villain in an age where the world is hooked on a global war economy: "You still don't get it. I'm using war as a business to get ELECTED! So I can end war as a business." He becomes less self-contradictory when he later details that he's totally fine with plunging USA into anarchic civil war as long as it's not a business. Raiden finds his ideas completely ridiculous either way.
  • Metroid Prime Trilogy: This is a recurring theme with Phazon-based enemies, against whom Phazon-based weaponry is usually the most effective. In fact, the Final Bosses of Prime and Echoes can only be damaged with Phazon-based Eleventh Hour Superpowers. Corruption takes this further by giving you Phazon weapons early on, which continue to be the best way to deal with Phazon-wielding enemies found throughout the game.
    • Metroid Prime 2: Echoes: According to the lore, this was the idea behind the Luminoth's creation of the Dark Beam; killing dark creatures by overloading them with dark energy. Unfortunately, this didn't work, so the Luminoth created the Light Beam instead, to much better results.
  • Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers: Stop time to stop time from stopping. To elaborate more: Stealing a Time Gear from its place will cause time in that area to stop flowing, but if the Time Gears are not taken from their current location to Temporal Tower, the tower will fall into ruin and time everywhere will stop flowing.
  • In Pokémon Vietnamese Crystal, a Translation Train Wreck of Pokémon Crystal Version, you apparently have to pull the power supply out to start up the PC.
  • Pokémon Black and White: Team Plasma wants all Pokémon to be released into the wild, and they'll use their Pokemon to force you to give them up. Turns out The Man Behind the Man Ghetsis just wants everyone else to release their Pokémon, so he'll be the only one with Pokémon and can take over Unova with ease.
  • Most of the Quest for Glory games require you to play Unwitting Pawn to the villain's scheme before you can put an end to that scheme. In the second game, this is actually in force by your enemy, who needs "A hero from the north" to fulfill a prophecy, and so send the elementals to test younote . In the third game, you're trying to avert a war between the Leopardmen and the Simbani, but the only way to discover who's trying to incite the war is to let the war actually happennote . In the fourth game, the Big Bad plots to unleash an otherworldly Dark One that was partially summoned years ago (and the partial summoning is responsible for the sorry state of the surrounding countryside), and to permanently banish the Dark One, the hero has to finish summoning itnote .
  • Resident Evil 6: As revealed during Leon's story mode, Simmons orchestrated the C-Virus outbreak in Tall Oaks to prevent President Benford from revealing the truth behind the Raccoon City Incident, believing that if he did so, the U.S. would lose all of its global authority and the world would descend into chaos. Leon and Helena call him on it, pointing out that his idea of stopping a possible disaster was causing an actual one.
  • In the R-Type series, the iconic Force device is made using embryonic Bydo flesh, creating a nigh-impenetrable shield and multi-functional weapon that is highly effective in destroying Bydo. It's strongly implied that this is what eventually creates the Bydo themselves in the future, so the only way to stop the Bydo war is to use the Bydo to destroy the Bydo which will create the Bydo to then go back into the past and start the invasion. It's almost an Inverted Trope: Stop X to Start X.
  • The Maymai Alliance in Spectral Force Genesis wants to stop a war that will ravage the land, but to do it, they'll beat everyone else and then disarm them all.
  • In Starbound, the Ruin was sealed away in the Ark using six artifacts as keys. When signs indicate it's about to break free and cause untold destruction, what can you do to stop it? Find the artifacts, open the Ark, and go in and kill it yourself!
  • StarCraft II: The Overmind's idea: start a genocidal war to stop a genocidal war. It seeks someone strong enough to take over the Zerg Swarm, lest the Zerg Swarm will eventually be mind-slaved by the Xelnaga Amon. Amazingly, this plan seems to be working in its favor despite everything.
  • Lloyd and co from Tales of Symphonia, after discovering where Exspheres come from, resolve to stop the Desians and Cruxis and stop the manufacture of Exspheres. However, they quickly realize afterwards that, in order to even stand a chance against them, they have to keep using their own Exspheres anyway. The party continues to use theirs after the game, while planning to give them up after Lloyd finishes his quest to gather every Exsphere on the planet.
  • Throughout the Zero Escape series, this tends to be a major motivation behind each iteration of Zero.
    • In Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, Past!Akane is trying to survive a Nonary Game. To this end, she causes a time paradox, shifting her consciousness into the future, where she creates another Nonary Game and risks people's lives to make them play it.
    • In Virtue's Last Reward, the world will be devastated by people infected with a disease called Radical-6, leading to the deaths of 6 billion people. Preventing it involves creating a Nonary Game and injecting its participants with Radical-6.
    • In Zero Time Dilemma, Brother wanted to release Radical-6 in the hopes that it would stop a religious fanatic that would kill all humans, and not just the 6 billion that would die as a result of Radical-6's effects.

    Webcomics 
  • Janis from Erfworld is a Hippymancer who wants to see Erfworld at peace. She's become convinced that this won't happen until things get broken even worse than usual.
    "Lord Parson doesn't want to lead it. I respect him for that, but I'm also really quite frightened about what will happen to the whole world if he takes command again."
    One corner of Janis' mouth drooped, and she touched his shoulder.
    "It will break. I told you. He may war so terribly that it breaks war itself. That is my own hope." She smiled sadly, "And in the long run, I have few others."
  • In Goblins, one Temple of Doom has a spirit, Noh, who manifests whenever his name is spoken, intentionally or not, and says he'll kill everyone present the fourth time he's summoned. The team Blood Knight verifies that he appears in the same location each time and that he's vulnerable to having his throat ripped out, then readies his claws, summons him a fourth time, and beats him to the punch.
  • The main goal of Misfile is to find a way for Rumisiel to return to Heaven to correct the titular mistake in the Celestial Bureaucracy which turned Ash into a girl and deleted two years of Emily's life. Near the end, they finally get the chance to, but by that time things have happened that caused them to change their mind. Emily easily decides to destroy the files about her missing years since she's decided that her life post-misfile is miles better than before, but while Ash wants his proper body back, he also realizes that being a girl did alot of good for both himself and others, both retroactively and during the year and half of the plot, and fixing the misfile will also erase his memories of what happened, which means that among other things he might not be together with Emily. Rumisiel manages to find a compromise by making more misfiles, first by creating a copy of Ash's file, marking out all the references to gender, and filing it in the female cabinet, creating a twin sister who did everything Ash did in the altered timeline as well as during the comic's plot, while Ash's file gets re-filed into the proper male cabinet, only covered in post-it notes, confusing the system enough to let Ash keep his memories (albeit also setting up the plot of the sequel).

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • The episode "Jet" of Avatar: The Last Airbender features one rather similar to the Vietnam situation in the Real Life section. An Earth Kingdom village has been taken over by the Fire Nation, and the rebels are determined to save it. Their solution? Blow up the dam and kill everyone in the village.
  • King of the Hill: In "Hank's Bully", a young boy named Caleb and his family move into the neighborhood, and immediately begins bullying Hank, calling him names like "Dusty Old Bones, full of green dust" over and over. Hank tries to tell Caleb's parents, but they brush it off, since he acts so nice around them. Eventually, Hank decides the best way to have Caleb's parents put an end to it is to have Bobby mimic Caleb's behavior, with Hank repeating the parents' statements once they complain about it.
  • An episode of Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness has Po consider releasing a Sealed Evil in a Can so he can defeat it and restore his fan club's faith in him. After a brief Imagine Spot he opts against it, but then accidentally releases it when he drops the jar it was in.
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Twilight Sparkle falls into this twice:
    • In the episode "Lesson Zero", she literally goes crazy with worry about not turning in her weekly friendship report to Princess Celestia on time and, after failing to find a problem to solve, decides "If I can't find a friendship problem, I'll make a friendship problem!"
    • The episode "It's About Time" has her get a visit from her future self which makes her think that there is going to be a terrible calamity by next Tuesday. The episode has her growing increasingly frantic and sleep-deprived, trying to figure out what this calamity is so that she can stop it. Finally, she gets so desperate that she decides the only way to prevent whatever is going to happen is to find a spell to stop time itself, so that next Tuesday can never come. The big punchline to the episode is that there never was any future calamity on its way, and the whole plot was kicked off by a Stable Time Loop caused by 'future' Twilight going back to the past in a failed attempt to tell herself not spend the next week freaking out.
  • At the end of Season 3 of ReBoot, Mainframe is falling apart thanks to Megabyte's reign. When a Game approaches, Bob decides to let it crash the system instead of play it. Mainframe is too far gone for system repairs — their only recourse is the User rebooting the system after it crashes. To save Mainframe, they have to let it and everyone in it die first.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars: The fact that meeting personal power and anger with personal power and anger is a bad idea when talking about force users and is not the Jedi way is pointed out in "Lair of Grievous" when Knight Nahdar Vebb insists on fighting Grievous alone because he wants revenge and thinks his knowledge of and power in the force is greater. This gets him killed, while he probably would have survived if he'd kept by Kit Fisto and remained true to the Jedi creed.

    Real Life 
  • Windows 95 and later: click the Start button to Shut Down the computer.
  • World War I's description as "The War to End All Wars" sounds like an example, but in reality peace wasn't the goal of the instigators. The term comes from the vain hope of the survivors that its horrors would put people off warfare for good. Obviously that didn't come to pass.
  • The American Civil War's General Sherman had an idea decades early during the conflict and said he wanted to make war so frightening for the South that they'd never want to take up arms ever again. By all appearances he succeeded, since there has not been another American Civil War in the century-and-a-half since thennote .
  • Doctor Richard Gatling invented the high rate-of-fire gun that bears his name in order for the side with the gun to not need as many men to face danger. Great idea until the other side gets them too and both sides just decide they need even bigger armies to soak up the bullets.
  • Peter Arnett quoted a United States major as saying, "It became necessary to destroy the town to save it."
  • Mao Zedong's defining phase, "political power grows out the barrel of a gun" came from this passage: (Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung, Vol. II, pp. 224-225)
    [O]nly with guns can the whole world be transformed. We are advocates of the abolition of war, we do not want war; but war can only be abolished through war, and in order to get rid of the gun it is necessary to take up the gun.
  • Back-fires are controlled fires used to stop the progress of an uncontrolled one (by using controlled fires to consume the fuel for the uncontrolled fire), and the origin of the phrase "fight fire with fire."
    • This is also periodically done to prevent major fires, by creating low-intensity fires to burn off much of the dry undergrowth and dead foliage that contribute to major fires. Sometimes these controlled burns get out of control, making it a controversial tactic.
    • It's inverted when naturally occurring fires are stamped out early, meaning that the underbrush does not get burned off naturally. Eventually a fire starts in such a fuel-rich environment and rapidly grows into a huge blaze.
    • A certain logic problem revolves around this trope. You're stranded on an island covered entirely with a forest. A lightning strike starts a fire at one end of the island, and the wind is causing the fire to slowly spread across the rest of the island. How do you survive? Pick up a branch from the underbrush in the forest, go near the fire and light the stick. Run to the other end of the island and light the forest on fire there. It will burn out soon, as it can't spread against the wind. You can then use this burnt-out section as a safe spot when the main fire comes.
  • Oliver Cromwell's English republic had this as its motto — Pax Quaeritur Bello, or "Peace is sought through war".
  • This happened all the time during The French Revolution. Many of the Revolutionaries in fighting for and arguing for the things they wanted to put in place resorted to means which contradicted their ideals:
    • In order for the Revolution to create a society as per "The Declaration of the Rights of Man" which asserted the protection of civil liberties and right to property as well as freedom of religion, they had to reform feudalism. To reform feudalism they came up with the scheme of creating a new national church and seizing property, i.e., violate the very principles they are trying to erect. This was a key cause for the counter-revolution, as this interference was resented by the rural population, the Vendeeans. Pro-revolutionary historians admit that it was a less than perfect approach to separation of Church and State.
    • The Declaration also stated that France would not declare or provoke war nor would it conquer other sovereign nations. However, in order for the revolution to succeed against opposition, many politicians like the Girondins decided that France should invade neighbouring regions to "spread the Revolution". Danton, despite initially opposing the war, admitted that it was a chance for France to reclaim its "natural frontiers", and expansionist rhetoric accompanied idealistic notions of spreading the Revolution, almost entirely without irony.
    • Dr. Joseph-Ignace Guillotin did not invent the device, but advocated its use to make executions swift and painless hoping it would lead to an end to capital punishment to which he was opposed. The Reign of Terror started not long after with the beheading machine getting a lot of use.
    • Robespierre opposed capital punishment, but only during peacetime. During wartime, killing the King and counter-revolutionaries was necessary to arrive at the capital-punishment-free peacetime. Emmanuel Joseph Sieyès saw himself as a liberal and moderate, rather than a firebrand revolutionary. Eventually he felt France was being too unstable and that there needed to be order. So he decided to mastermind a military coup d'etat and went shopping for a general to serve as his puppet. The one guy who was conveniently available : Napoléon Bonaparte. Such reversals, drastic and dynamic were common and bitterly lampshaded by Pierre-Victurnien Vergniaud at the trial of the Girondins:
    "Citizens, we have reason to fear that the Revolution, like Saturn, will successively devour all its children, and finally produce despotism, with the calamities that accompany it."
  • There exists a school of socialism, known as "accelerationism," which believes that (in the simplest of terms) in order to overthrow a capitalist system, the worst aspects of capitalism must be intensified (accelerated) to radicalize the proletariat into revolution.
  • Bruce Hoffman suggested in his 1998 book Inside Terrorism that the trend of escalating violence would soon lead to an act of terror so awful that the world's sympathies would turn against the perpetrators. Terrorism would get so horrific that terrorists would abandon it.
  • US forces in Iraq had more success against the foreign jihadists in the mid-2000's when their acts of terrorism became so brutal that the local armed rebels got sick of them and began opposing them.
  • In May 2015, scientists successfully cured people of the C. difficile bacterium by injecting them with... more C. difficile. The injected C. difficile had been programmed not to produce the toxins that caused the bacterium's symptoms, and occupied the spaces in the gut that the bacterium normally inhabits, preventing the real bacterium from settling there.
  • It is common for bomb squads to deal with a suspicious package or bag that might be a bomb by blowing it up in a controlled explosion.
  • Explosive Reactive Armour attached to armored fighting vehicles uses one explosion to neutralize another explosion in Anti-Tank warfare.
    • Similarly, noise canceling headphones produce noise in such a way that it cancels out soundwaves heading towards the ear.
  • One method used to rapidly clear lanes through a minefield is launch a long rope of explosives along the planned route and blow it up to blow up the mines.
  • If you have a dog that won't quit barking, one method of training it out of that behavior is to first teach it to bark on command.
  • Some vaccines, such as the oral polio vaccine, introduce a weakened form of a pathogen. Some others, such as the smallpox vaccine, introduce a different but "close enough" pathogen (cowpox for smallpox). Thus, a small number of vaccines work to prevent illness by giving a weakened illness. Note: these are the exceptions today. Most, like the common flu vaccine today, introduce something incapable of causing disease like an isolated viral protein (though soreness is common, as the immune system is supposed to react to the substance and the soreness is caused by that reaction). And most recently, mRNA vaccines contain no viral material at all, instead causing the body's own cells to create the appropriate proteins to trigger an immune response.

Alternative Title(s): Fight Fire With Fire, Fighting Fire With Fire

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