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The War Has Just Begun

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"Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."

Great job, everyone. You've routed the Big Bad, foiled the Evil Plan, destroyed the superweapon, and saved the day! Time to celebrate your hard-earned victory, right?

Of course not. Here's where somebody, usually the leader, reminds everyone to be ready for more, because the job is just starting. The Big Bad was thwarted, but he'll be back. The planet has more Phlebotinum, and if they ever got enough, they could conquer the galaxy. There's blueprints for more doomsday weapons out there. In short, the battle may be over, but, as the saying goes, The War Has Just Begun.

Sometimes the villain will say this. "You may have won the battle but..." That's more of a We Will Meet Again thing though, unless of course he's telling his own troops.

Contrast Rousing Speech. Also see War Was Beginning, Won the War, Lost the Peace.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Macross: Do You Remember Love? ends with a grim note that after all the sacrifice, all the effort, all the death... what humanity and the friendly Zentraedi have managed to do is defeat one enemy fleet, out of thousands that are spread across the galaxy.
  • Giren Zabi in Mobile Suit Gundam does this right before the final battle of the original series, stating (in the English movie dub), "The war is not over, but know that we have won." His side loses. Badly.
  • In Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, after regaining control of the Cathedral Terra, routing the Anti-Spiral Human eradication program in the process, Simon reminds everyone that they still have to take the fight to the Anti-Spiral homeworld and save Nia.

    Fan Works 
  • Avengers of the Multi-verse: Modula quotes this trope to the Avengers during the climax of the Season 1 finale Clash of Titans, noting that even if the heroes win this particular battle, the war has just started. At the end of the story, Danny acknowledges the point when the team is making the decision to expand.
  • The Equestrian Wind Mage uses this at the end of Season 2. Even as everyone's celebrating the defeat of Ganondorf, the heroes know that Majora's followers are still out there, preparing to release him, and that an even worse war than the one they've just won is coming.
  • The Night Unfurls:
    • Celestine quotes this trope at the end of Chapter 3 of the original, signifying the reality that Eostia has Won the War, Lost the Peace.
    • A variation is present in the remastered version, as Vault reveals his Evil Plan to Kyril, who insists that the war against Olga is over.
      Kyril: We have won the war, have we not? The Dark Queen is being brought to justice. Surely that means we have our glory don't we?
      Vault: You are not that naive. It won't end with Olga because this is just the beginning. The Black Fortress is a treasure trove. With it, the orc clans united under our banner, we can take the South as well, Hunter. We can make a new world order, with people like Celestine and Olga under our heel while every man lives like kings.
  • Once More with Feeling: After Shinji has destroyed Sachiel, Misato reassures him that it is over. Meanwhile, Shinji thinks he has merely won the first battle, and this is only the beginning of the war.
    "Its okay" Misato assured him over the comlink. "We'll have you out of there in a couple of minutes…Shinji, Shinji you did great out there, its all over".
    No Misato Shinji thought as he leaned back to rest in his command chair, closing his eyes as he listened to the soothing hum of the entry plugs life support systems.
    This has just begun.
    It probably would have worried him to know his Father was thinking much the same of the Captain's statement as he gave the main screen a smirk, before turning and walking out of the command center.

    Film — Animated 
  • The Transformers: The Movie version of the theme song contains the following lines:
    The battle's over
    But the war has just begun
    And this way it will remain
    'til the day when all are one!

    Film — Live Action 
  • Caesar of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes speaks this trope word for word in the film's final scene, with deep regret — even though Koba is dead and the survivors and apes have stopped fighting for now, the humans will never forgive the apes for starting a war and will seek to exterminate them with prejudice, even if a few of those apes came to their rescue.
  • Said at the end of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers by Gandalf:
    Gandalf: The Battle for Helm's Deep is over... the battle for Middle-Earth is about to begin.
  • The prologue of the second National Treasure movie has this from a Confederate man after having just committed murder, saying that the Civil War had "just begun" just after Lincoln was shot. Considering the lack of a second Civil War in American history, clearly it hadn't.
  • Star Wars:
    • Attack of the Clones concludes with Yoda's speech after the Jedi believe they have defeated Count Dooku thanks to the clone army:
      Yoda: The shroud of the dark side has fallen. Begun, the Clone War has.
    • In The Last Jedi, Luke Skywalker says this almost word for word, though this is inverted, since the war not being over yet is a good thing for the broken and helpless Resistance. Luke refutes Kylo Ren's assertion that the war is over, since he and Rey have given the Resistance a chance to survive and keep fighting.
      Luke: The Rebellion is reborn today. The war is just beginning. And I will not be the last Jedi.
  • Near the end of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze, the Turtles have de-mutated Tokka and Rahzar, as well as beaten of the most remaining Foot ninja and Tatsu. Then, the Shredder shows up to tell them, "The battle is yours... but the war is far from over, so long as I possess this!", and reveals he has more ooze to create more mutants. It soon becomes a moot point though.
  • The end of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. Judgment Day is inevitable, but John Connor embraces his destiny to be the leader of mankind and defeat Skynet.
  • World War Z: "If you can fight, fight. Be prepared for anything. Our war has just begun."

  • After the defeat of Cockatrice and his basilisk army in The Book of the Dun Cow, at the price of heavy losses, a badly injured Chauntecleer learns that the much more powerful Big Bad still has to be dealt with. This drives him into a particularly serious Heroic BSoD.
  • Dragons of Deltora, the third Deltora Quest series, ends this way. Basically the final paragraph is a reminder that, though they have finally unraveled the last of the Shadowlord's Xanatos Gambit, the man himself is still around and can afford to spend a few generations thinking up and implementing a new Xanatos Gambit.
  • Harry Potter uses the chapter title "The Second War Begins" in Order of the Phoenix after Voldemort was defeated in the Department of Mysteries, but when the Ministry of Magic began to recognize the war on Voldemort himself. Amusingly, the final chapter of the previous book had been "The Beginning", with a fairly similar implication.
  • Pretty much the entirety of the Honor Harrington book Field of Dishonor is devoted to the Manticoran military and their allies in the Centrist party trying to persuade the rest of Manticore's political class that just because Haven was defeated in pretty much every battle in the opening salvo of the Manticoran-Havenite war doesn't mean that Haven is now going to go home, lick their wounds, and leave Manticore is peace.
  • At the end of Kill Decision, Odin tells Linda that all they've accomplished has only delayed the villains for one to two years.
  • The Lord of the Rings gives Gandalf several opportunities to say this, especially in The Movies. So many in fact that he sometimes comes across as rather a party pooper.
    After having narrowly defeated Saruman's gigantic army of Uruk-Hai: The Battle for Helm's Deep is over...the battle for Middle Earth is just beginning...
    After having even more narrowly defeated the Witch King's even more gigantic army of Orcs and Southrons: ...Behind the walls of Mordor, Sauron is rebuilding his strength.
    • Comes off as a party pooper? Gandalf has an explicit reputation for this, it's even one of his many names.
      Wormtongue: Lathespell! Ill news I name you! And ill news is an ill guest!
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, after Robb wins his first battle, Theon Greyjoy becomes very enthusiastic that they captured a lot of lords fighting for the Lannisters. Catelyn disillusions him by saying that until he captures Lord Tywin Lannister, "this war is far from done".
  • This is part of what makes Thrawn so much more competent than other Star Wars villains; in The Thrawn Trilogy he uses this line to explain to his men why he's falling back when a major plan goes bad. Better to preserve his forces for the real war in the future.
  • The end of the Dale Brown novel Wings of Fire. The Big Bad and The Man Behind the Man are dead, but the Libyan resistance still has a long way to go to bring peace to their nation.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the final episode of the second series of The 4400, the Oracular Urchin Maia gives this line almost word-for-word at the end.
  • On Angel, Wolfram and Hart usually makes a point of arguing that "the war has just begun," and this always proves to be true; even, or especially, in the series finale.
  • In the pilot movie for Battlestar Galactica, the surviving humans are reloading on Ragnar Station. President Laura Roslin is trying to get Commander Adama to forget about trying to fight the Cylons. She tells him, "The war is over, and we lost." Adama replies, "It hasn't begun." Later, he changes his mind.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 7, subverted of course. Buffy says the war has just begun when they are at the worst position against the First Evil.
  • Doctor Who: in "Journey's End", Rose Tyler, hefting a honkin' big gun, proclaims "It's only just beginning" after the Earth is transmatted far across the universe.
  • The Farscape wrap-up mini-series starts with Scorpius attacking a Scarran fleet, sparking the war that has been brewing for so long. When the Grand Chancellor contacts him, he "congratulates" Scorpius on starting the last war of the Peacekeepers.
    • Interestingly, it's implied by the show that the victor in such a war will not be either the Peacekeepers or the Scarrans. The Nebari, being a superpower to rival the other two (they don't even have dedicated warships, as their civilians ships can pretty much beat any warship of the other two powers), is likely to fill the resulting power vacuum.
  • In Game of Thrones, after Robb Stark's first major victory he cautions his celebrating followers that they haven't achieved any of their aims yet, and that "this war is far from over."
  • One of the main villains of Power Rangers Jungle Fury is a monster named Carnisoar, who, after a huge battle with the Rangers, gets destroyed by the Rhino Pride Megazord. His last words, of course:
    Carnisoar: (as his body prepares to explode) You may have won this battle, but this is far from over. (blows up)
  • Stargate SG-1 uses this in their final season.
    Lt. Col. Cameron Mitchell: And you should probably tell him: we've officially declared war on the Lucian Alliance.
  • In the Supernatural Season 2 finale, appropriately titled "All Hell Breaks Loose", our intrepid heroes put down the Big Bad, just to get told "War's just begun."

    Professional Wrestling 
  • In 1986, Roddy Piper uttered this very line in the trope definer (at least as far as professional wrestling goes), after he destroyed the set of the Flower Shop (rival "Adorable" Adrian Adonis' talk-show segment), in retaliation for a 3-on-1 attack that saw Piper beaten beyond unconsciousness and the Piper's Pit set destroyed a week earlier.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Combined with Schrödinger's Gun, this has no doubt saved many a Tabletop RPG when the Random Number God allows them to punch out Cthulhu.
  • Warhammer 40,000 is perpetually stuck on the precipice of galactic extinction. The endless hordes of the Tyranids are still just beginning to reach the galaxy, the Necrons have only just started to wake up, the Tau have just begun to expand outside their fortified Empire, and the forces of Chaos are gearing up for yet another Black Crusade to crush the Imperium forever.

    Video Games 
  • At the end of Battlefield: Bad Company 2, after averting a Russian invasion of the continental United States ("Invasion cancelled...sir!"), Bad Company is informed that the Russians have made landfall in Alaska.
  • Command & Conquer:
    • An example that's most delightful in its camp is from the opening cutscene of Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2. After the Rasputin-like psychic Yuri destroys the American nuclear capabilities, paving the way for Soviet invasion, the following exchange takes place.
      Premier: Is it done, Yuri?
      Yuri: No, comrade Premier. It has only begun.
    • Inverted at the end of Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight: even though Kane is well and truly gone this time (we think), the world refuses to believe it. Understandable, since they thought he'd died in at least three separate wars before then.
  • Crysis has this too: Although you defeated one of the larger aliens, there are millions of smaller ones moving to conquer Earth, and the mountain is still alive, so the end of the game shows Nomad, Psycho, and Helena returning to the island to finish the job. So does the sequel:
    Prophet: See, we won here, today. But this thing isn't even close to over. You and me, we don't get to die just yet. We gotta go back. We're needed.
  • A variation of the phrase appears in Emperor: Battle for Dune, by the same developers as the above example. In the campaign opening, as the Great Houses declare a new war for Arrakis, a Spacing Guild representative says that the old war has begun again. His Bene Gesserit companion corrects him, saying it has never ended.
  • Fire Emblem: Thracia 776 ends like this because it takes place within the time frame of the previous game. After Leif liberates Thracia, he joins Seliph's army to defeat the evil empire.
  • Done very harshly in Halo: Reach in the middle of the game. Roughly the first half of the game consists of fighting a Covenant strike force that has found the planet Reach. With the human fleet still days away, a boarding team manages to take out both capital ships of the battle group, buying time to prepare defenses for the main battle that is to come. No less than 30 seconds after the blast, while the fireball is still fading in the sky, the automated defense system reports "Slipstream Rupture detected". ... "Slipstream Rupture detected." ... "Slipstream Rupture detected." "Slipstream Rupture detected." ... "Slipstream Rupture detected." "Slipstream Rupture detected." The Cavalry Arrives Late, but it doesn't make a difference for the defenders.
  • Left 4 Dead's intro movie ends like this.
    Louis: We made it... I can't believe we made it!
    Bill: Son, we just crossed the street. Let's not throw a party until we're out of the city.
    • Or in the Spanish dub, "This was just a skirmish. Here comes the war."
  • Mass Effect ends with Shepard and Captain Anderson delivering this speech to the Council. Assuming you saved it.
  • Mass Effect 2 ends with a simialr speech delivered to the Illusive Man, as well as the Reapers now waking up and on their way to attack the Milky Way galaxy.
  • Mega Man:
    "Fight, Mega Man! For everlasting peace!"
  • Sigma's speech at the end of The Day of ∑ in Mega Man: Maverick Hunter X.
    Sigma: Come and get me, X! The time has come to prove your mettle against me. This fight will decide the fate of all Reploids! The battle may be over, but the war is just beginning! Muahahahahahaha!
  • Most Metal Gear Solid games have this feel, since the blueprints for Metal Gears, or villains invariably survive.
  • Similarly, the ending of the original Metroid:
    GREAT !!
  • At the end of Portal, psychopathic AI GLaDOS (whom you just destroyed) informs you, in a beautiful song, that she is 'still alive', and will still be so when you are dead.
  • World in Conflict ends with the invasion in Seattle repelled, but the war in Europe is far from over.
  • XCOM: Enemy Unknown plays a cutscene after you assault the aliens' hidden base on Earth and kill the Sectoid Commander leading it, where everyone in Mission Control is celebrating your victory. When your head scientist walks in and asks what's the big deal, Central Officer Bradford explains "We just neutralized their central command, we've got no other alerts on the entire system, and we took our their leader. In my book, that's a win, doctor." Dr. Vahlen just gives him a Disapproving Look before going back to the lab, and in a subsequent cutscene shows off an alien communication device recovered from their base, and asks the obvious question: "If the Sectoid Commander was the alien leader, then who, or what, was it communicating with?" Sure enough, the war is by no means over, and the aliens' actual leader caste begins appearing during subsequent missions, along with their elite forces. And with the Enemy Within expansion, less than a month after you attack their base, the aliens retaliate by attacking XCOM HQ.
    • The popular XCOM: Long War mod has the tagline "The invasion has only just begun." It's not just a lot longer than a normal XCOM campaign, it's much more difficult, enough so that Jake Solomon, XCOM:EU's lead designer, has admitted "We're basically a 20-hour tutorial for Long War, and that's okay."
  • XCOM 2 ends with a mass uprising against the ADVENT Administration, but Earth isn't fully liberated yet, leading a Resistance leader to urge humanity to keep fighting and know that help is on the way. The War of the Chosen expansion adds an even more ominous epilogue, where Geist and the Templars look over the aftermath of the final campaign mission, suggesting that whatever the Ethereals claimed to be fighting against is about to hit Earth.
    Geist: We won but a battle... now the real war begins.

    Western Animation 
  • The second season finale to Code Lyoko has Jeremie stand up and say to his despairing friends:
    Jeremie: Same as always: We'll fight! XANA may have become more powerful, but I don't think he's invincible. If he attacks, we'll counterattack! We'll find a way to get rid of XANA for good!
  • The Lion Guard: In the episode, "The Scorpion's Sting", Scar says this phrase as he sees his army defeated by Kion.
  • Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles includes a great scene at the end of the first episode, after the big honking alien force has been miraculously defeated, the narrator character looks up to see an even bigger honking swarm of flying alien bugs coming over the horizon, and indeed says, "The war had just begun."
  • The cliffhanger ending of Season One of Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated has a defiant Scooby tell Pericles that not only will he resurrect Mystery Incorporated, he'll also take him down.
  • Optimus Primal's speech at the end of the two-part pilot for Transformers: Beast Wars is a textbook example.
    Optimus Primal: ...So for now, let the battle be here, on this strange, primitive world. And let it be called... Beast Wars!

    Real Life 
  • Winston Churchill, after The Commonwealth executed their first successful offensive operation of the entire war against German-Italian forces in the Second Battle of El Alamein (October-November 1942), delivered the quote at the top of the page.
  • The aftermath of the 1937 battle of Shanghai, the Nanjing massacre and the Battle of Wuhan — the Guomindang lost half of their entire fighting strength against the IJA and had no way of getting it back. The Guomindang government only got weaker despite large amounts of Soviet and American loans, but kept the war going for another eight years. Although it was never completely reformed, the Guomindang's army and air force became stronger thanks to Soviet and Allied aid. Despite heavy losses, the GMD maintained a stalemate against Japan, and even secured several victories.
  • The failure of Operation Typhoon in October-December 1941, Germany's first unsuccessful offensive of the war, sent a clear message to all (especially Britain and the USA, who were skeptical about the USSR's willingness and ability to continue fighting) that Germany couldn't win a 'clean'/'total' victory. A year later, the success of Operation Uranus in encircling nearly 1/5 of the entire German military's combat troops in Stalingrad and liberating the eastern Ukraine made it clear that Germany would lose.
  • The Norwegian government, gathered in the early hours of morning of April 9, 1940, played this straight. At about 5 o'clock, the German ambassador, dr Bräuer, came to the government with the German claims. While he waited in an adjacent room, the government debated, and the minister of Justice, Trygve Lie, said on behalf of all that this proposition was unacceptable. The foreign Minister, Koht, then went out to let Bräuer know what they had decided. Bräuer then responded: "You know, this will imply fighting?" Koht answered thus:
    "The fighting is on already."