Haley: THE RESISTANCE!
Isamu: Wait — "The Resistance"? I thought we agreed we were going to call ourselves "The Azure City Underground"?
Thanh: I thought we were going with "Sapphire Liberation Front".
Niu: I still prefer "Rebel Alliance".
Whats worse than the fearsome armies of The Empire? Infighting — always a hindrance, never pretty.
The government is evil, decadent, corrupt or all three and it's time for a revolution. Only one thing stands in the way: your fellow revolutionaries. All of you can agree on only one thing: The government must go. Beyond that, you and your fellow revolutionaries couldn't decide on pizza toppings, let alone the shape of the world to come (or how to get it there). This can lead to squabbling that prevents any coordinated action from taking place...or it can escalate to the point where the different revolutionary factions are spending as much time and energy shooting at each other as they are shooting at the ones in power.
This is the 'before' picture of the obsessive bureaucracy. The definitive case where being right is more important than doing right (or doing much of anything).
A Sub-Trope of Divided We Fall, specifically when the separate factions are not just ignoring each other or working in isolation but are actively engaged in conflict with each other. Contrast Enemy Mine, where two groups of people work together due to one common goal despite other differences in beliefs.
See also A House Divided, With Us or Against Us, Misfit Mobilization Moment, Right Hand Versus Left Hand, Interservice Rivalry, Civil War, Enemy Civil War. And expect both (if not more) parties to subject each other to Poser Hating. Also compare Jurisdiction Friction for when two factions are bickering over a common goal from within one or more government agencies. Compare Not-So-Omniscient Council of Bickering, With Friends Like These....
When it's two heroes of the same cause fighting because they mistake each other for the villain, it's Let's You and Him Fight. When the heroes are directly manipulated into fighting each other by a villain, it's Divide and Conquer and/or a False Flag Operation.
Contrast Enemy Mine, where two or more opposing sides are forced to work together, usually against a mutual adversary.
- In Attack on Titan, one of the major problems that the Survey Corps has with the royal government is that they don't know why the government is doing anything. Why suppress technology? Why hide knowledge of the Titans and the world before the Walls? They could be doing it all for the good of humanity, or they could just be desperately trying to retain their own power. In chapter 61, Commander Pixis fakes a report saying that the next Wall has fallen in order to gauge the council's reactions. When they immediately order the gates sealed and half of humanity sacrificed to save themselves, he decides that they don't deserve to lead.
- The next arc throws a gut punch to the readers by showing just how divisive and corrupting a conflict of values can be when it applies to the overpowered main characters; Eren decides he wants to destroy the concept of slavery, even if it means mass-genocide of slave races (which includes all of his friends) and most of human civilization. Half the military agrees with his train of thought, the other half call him out. It doesn't start well.
- In Boarding School Juliet, the White Cats are catty, politicking mess of factions only barely organized around a monarchy...but they know who their real enemies are. Cats who physically attack their fellows are swiftly punished by the "collective".
- Code Geass:
- The Japanese resistance is like this in the beginning, until resident Magnificent Bastard Lelouch and his Black Knights consolidate the remnants of all the other groups.
- It's even mentioned as being part of the Kyoto Group (the main benefactor for all the Japanese rebellion factions) main motivation for funding so many groups. Lelouch forces them to pledge their complete allegiance to him, by which anything other than minor resistance factions have been rolled into the Black Knights.
- The Future Foundation in Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak High School is an organization dedicated to fighting Ultimate Despair and undoing The End of the World as We Know It. However when the leadership gets dragged into another Deadly Game, they immediately turn on each other like a bunch of rabid animals with the second-highest-ranking person in the room suggesting that they kill each other off one by one to out the mastermind and branding Makoto a traitor when he points out the insanity of it.
- In Fate/Apocrypha, this is a notable problem of the Red Faction. First off, with Spartacus's misbehavior and attempts of internal sabotage, but when Shirou reveals that he stole the command seals of nearly all of the remaining masters, Kairi and Mordred defect to the other team. Among the remaining Servants, Karna, Achilles, and Atalanta all have vocal protests about the situation. Atalanta fears she'll be used and discarded like her master, Achilles feels the situation is unheroic and underhanded, and Karna feels obligated to protect the interests and well-being of his original master. By the end of it, it became their undoing. During the final battle against the Black Faction, their three front liners were fighting to settle a personal score rather than truly defending Shirou: Karna wanted to have his final battle against Siegfried (so he immediately dropped his defensive position of the Hanging Gardens once he spotted Sieg turn into Siegfried), Atalanta has gone mad and wanted to kill Jeanne, Achilles was too eager to have his awaited duel with Chiron... and eventually not only handed down his Noble Phantasm to Astolfo, which doomed Karna to defeat, he also pulled a Mutual Kill to Atalanta, depriving the Red Faction of all their frontline fighters. In addition, Shakespeare stayed true to his conviction that he's just interested in participating in the greatest epic instead of being committed to Shirou's defense; which leaves only Semiramis (his original Servant) as the only one truly loyal to him and fighting for his sake.
- In the world of Freezing, the world is being invaded by Eldritch Abominations, and yet most of mankind's hopes are more interested in rankings and beating the crap out of each other. Well, that's what you get when the fate of the world is in the hand of temperamental teenage girls.
- All of the military factions (Mustang, Grumman and General Armstrong at least) in Fullmetal Alchemist agree that King Bradley needs to be 'dethroned' and seem to understand that part of each other- yet when it all comes down to it the cooperation starts to disintegrate into 'who-will-get-the-big-seat-afterward' plotting rather than standing as a more united front.
- In Gintama, about the only thing Katsura and Takasugi seem to agree on is that the current government has to go. While the extremist Takasugi is cutting deals with intergalactic crime syndicates or mass producing weaponry, Katsura's plans typically involve something petty like secretly flipping all the Shinsengumi's toilet paper rolls upside down.
- Hetalia: Axis Powers:
- The Allied Powers seem only moments from tearing each other's throats out, even the ones that should have a lot in common (like America and England). This is Truth In Web Manga. Other historical examples are also mentioned, including the political fracturing of Italy and the decline of the (neither)Holy (nor)Roman (nor)Empire.
- The song "United Nations Star" performed by all five of the Allies, is basically "We ARE Struggling Together: The Song."
- In The Movie Paint It White! China has this brilliant line.
China: We're too busy fighting together to figure out if we should be fighting together anyway.
- In Kengan Omega, the Kengan Association must unite to fight against the Purgatory through 13 representative fighters, and the losing side will be absorbed by the winners. However, the Kengan Association is made up of multiple factions with a history of bad blood, and their representative fighters have conflicting agendas and personalities, leaving the Kengan Association with an extremely disjointed team. Raian and Akoya, especially, have no intention of getting along with the rest of the their teammates and seems dead-set on picking a fight with everyone.
Yamashita Kazuo: Forget fighting the Purgatory, we're going to end up destroying ourselves from within!
- In Living as I Please, As a Loli Demon King, the first arc involves the demon continent, where the protagonist now lives after being reincarnated, under attack from a genocidal human army pumped up on "blessings" from the Church of Human Supremacy, and yet the demon kings are far more focused on their factional bickering than actually preparing to fight. Milla's rational proposal to have all 11 of the demon kings take to the field together to completely overwhelm the enemy army and fill them with so much terror they never want to invade again is met with scorn and treated as the rantings of a mad-man, with Ornis, the demon king of despair, just eyeing her with pity, and the only one who agrees is the Demon Lord of Sloth who just wants the war over quickly so she can go take a nap.
- In Negima! Magister Negi Magi, there are several important factions. One, Negi's group. Two, Cosmo Entelechia. Three, Megalomesembria politicians led by Kurt Godel. Mahora academy seems to be involved to some extent. The goal: save everyone possible when the magic world collapses. Negi and Fate are archenemies, Negi thinks Kurt is too practical (and Kurt thinks Negi is foolishly idealistic) and Fate's group just wiped out most of the military as part of their plan to "help". And it's not clear what Mahora is doing, but they definitely disapprove of Fate's destruction of the gates. It's getting to the point that Negi and Fate are only fighting about who can do a better job of saving the world.
- The Patlabor OAV 'Seven Days of Fire' starts off with a rebellion against the maintenance chief over privileges (basically, fishing and girly magazines). Within days, there are literally dozens of splinter groups, each with its own agenda (some pro-chief), soon resorting to violence (with paper fans — this is Japan). Director Mamoru Oshii hung around a lot of radical student groups during his college days; one gets the impression that he wasn't left with a very high opinion of radicalism.
- Early episodes of Transformers: ★Headmasters had elements of this trope between the Trainbots and Headmasters, until they had to team up to save Japan from Sixshot.
- In Vandread, the various factions/groups that the crew of the Nirvana come to assist them in the final episodes of Season 2, when the Big Bad's fleet shows up. Prior to this, they were either being harvested by the Big Bad, or were at odds with each other.
- Superheroes in the Marvel Universe since the Civil War have spent about as much time fighting each other as they have fighting supervillains. One of the reassurances for the Secret Empire event was that it'd feature straight up bad guys as the opposition, after mixed reception to readers watching their heroes beat the snot out of each other again in Civil War II.
- In The Dark Knight Strikes Again, fellow heroes The Question and Green Arrow present an example by coming to blows over whether the new world order should be a Marxist Socialist Utopia, or a Randian Objectivist Utopia.
- In the revival of The Punisher that made him famous again, The Punisher: Welcome Back, Frank, three copycat vigilantes appear in the wake of the Punisher's return. One's Payback, a guy who targets corrupt rich folks. One's his polar opposite, a well-dressed man called "Elite" who's obsessed with killing people who "dirty" his neighborhood, starting mostly with some minor drug-peddlers moving in but working his way down to hot dog vendors and dogs that make a mess on the sidewalk. Between them is a literally Axe-Crazy priest who tends to chop up gang members who confess their crimes in his church. When all three meet up, none of them can decide on how to cooperate. And then when they finally just about figure out how to get along, the Punisher -who doesn't look kindly on copycats- delivers a "The Reason You Suck" Speech and shoots all three of them.
- The Defenders, in almost all incarnations, are comprised of people who have almost nothing in common but will still unite to face major threats, often of a magical or supernatural nature. Typical Defenders dialogue consists of a lot of backbiting — sometimes affectionate, sometimes not.
- Green Lantern:
- While Green Lanterns generally work with each other pretty well, the same can't be said of them working with the Guardians (with the exception of Ganthet). They might be in charge, but they're also so Lawful Stupid that the Lanterns frequently argue with or defy them. For their part, the Guardians eventually get so fed up with their Lanterns acting out that they create the Third Army, a horrific legion of mindless cyborgs meant to kill, assimilate, and replace the Green Lantern Corps.
- This is inherent in the Orange Lanterns. The orange light represents greed, meaning that the Lanterns it empowers are extremely greedy, some to the point of psychosis. It's nearly impossible for Orange Lanterns to work together without fighting amongst each other over loot. In the present, all the Orange Lanterns except Larfleeze are dead. Why? Larfleeze killed them all to get their loot for himself. When they're revived, they're only able to work together as long as they have the singular goal of getting back at Larfleeze; the second that's done, they almost immediately start bickering.
- Monstress has this among both major factions:
- The Federation of Man has an ongoing tug of war going on in the background of who has the most pull on the future of the Federation. The Prime Minister is trying to erode the power of the Cumaea, who have a huge amount of political power for what's supposed to be a religious organization, and it's mentioned that the naval command has considerable power and is on antagonistic terms with the Cumaea. And this doesn't even touch upon the army commanders or any other major forces within their politics.
- The Arcanic Empire is more or less an Empire in name only. It appears to be composed significantly of nomadic tribes, and has at least two separate de facto nations in the Dusk Court and Dawn Court, and that's not mentioning the powers available to the Blood Queens and what appears to be numerous independent city states, all with their own politics going on.
- A different weasel makes a difference is actually a lot better at averting this than the books, but it still comes up. Robb Stark sends Northern reinforcements to the Wall to repel the Wildlings, and eventually abandons the war in the South and commits all available forces to the Wall. Most of the Night's Watch and Northerners understand they must work with the Free Folk to survive and while the Night's Watch mutiny does happen, it is quickly thwarted and the mutineers are executed. It's pointed out this still should not have happened though, as it cost lives that could not be afforded.
- The rest of the war in the South lasts longer than it should, but there is some justification for it. Euron Grejoy is an Omnicidal Maniac intent on destroying as much of the Reach as possible, and the Reach obviously needs to deal with him before they can do anything else. Aegon Targaryen has no real excuse for continuing to fight other than trying to claim his crown. Stannis Baratheon is actually the best at averting this. At the battle of Highgarden, he focuses his attacks on Euron's forces (recognizing him as the true threat), and once victorious immediately rallies his forces, the Reach, and as much of Aegon's men as possible to commit to fighting the White Walkers. Some fighting continues (the remaining Ironborn are wiped out), but most quickly forces join together to fight the White Walker.
- This played straightest with Dorne. Even after Aegon is killed and the surviving forces they sent with him join Stannis, the rest of Dorne falls into a three-way civil war. Outsiders are baffled and annoyed at Dorne picked now of all times to completely fall apart.
- Konoha and The Land of Sound are like this in A Father's Wrath having to join up to combat The Jashinists they don't get along often due to Sound hating them over their haughtiness and treatment of Orochimaru's son Naruto. Whilst Konoha isn't too thrilled with working with them over how they had been attacked by them before.
- Jackie Chan Adventures and W.I.T.C.H. crossover fanfic Kage (part of Project Dark Jade):
- The former rebels still have a good deal of mistrust for the guards who turned on Phobos in the final battle.
- Also, Jade and Miranda are a case of Teeth-Clenched Teamwork, due to Miranda being a Jerkass towards Jade, with Raythor trying to keep the tensions between them from boiling over.
- The Knights of Vengeance as a whole suffer from this. It's specifically noted that without Raythor's leadership, they'd all turn on each other.
- Leave for Mendeleiev: Without Marinette around, Mme Bustier's class becomes a Dysfunction Junction. When they attempt to film Nino's movie, the group tears itself apart before Mylene ever gets akumatized, and end up having rely upon somebody who's not part of their class to try and lead them to safety.
- Mean Rabbit:
- When the League of Villains attacks the USJ, Midoriya finds himself stuck with several classmates who hold a grudge against him for nearly getting them expelled during the Quirk Assessment Test. Jiro, Kaminari and Mineta are all keen to outright abandon the concussed Izuku and leave him to fend for himself against the villains, resist working with him and criticize his every move, while the embittered and frustrated Izuku snipes right back at them for being horrible excuses for heroes-in-training.
- More generally speaking, Class 1-A lacks a unifier. Uraraka, Kirishima and Yaoyorozu are all in 1-B, Midoriya is much more cynical and defensive, and Aizawa immediately established with his threats of expulsion that he has no intention of actually working with his students, preferring to teach them that Life Isn't Fair through his callous 'Tough Love'.
- The New Adventures of Invader Zim:
- In Season 2, Darth's investigations into the New Irken Order movement are often stymied by the Tallest and Commander Wiyn, who both dislike him personally and view his work as insulting to their own authority.
- The NIO movement itself is shown to be suffering growing pains, in the form of clashes between the leaders of its various cells over the best means of carrying out their goals.
- A large problem for the forces arrayed against Voldemort in the Princess of the Blacks series is their near constant friction with each other. Jen is distant by necessity as her abilities and actions are highly illegal. Dumbledore insists anyone who doesn't follow him blindly is "Dark" with the (largely untrained) Order of the Phoenix believing they're the ones really fighting the war and the Ministry is just getting in their way/imprisoning innocent people. The Ministry is the sole faction actually trying to work with everyone but has to deal with Dumbledore condemning their use of lethal force against Death Eaters and arresting people like Stan Shunpike whom he insists (without proof) are innocent.
- In What About Witch Queen?, generals Potter and Windsor present why you shouldn't have two equal-ranked commanders in the same army. One believes in More Dakka, other prefers to be sneaky. With Arendelle army so close, the two of them should probably focus more on fighting the enemy than each other.
- When There Was a Tomorrow:
- Almost no one in the UNSC trusts Shepard's crew at first, in addition to Halsey's pre-existing rivalry with Colonel Ackerson from canon.
- Emile really doesn't like Garrus, for that matter.
- Remnants (part of the same series as said fic) revolves around the survivors of Halo's destruction trying not to get at each other's throats. Said survivors consist of UNSC soldiers who have spent decades fighting the Covenant, Covenant deserters (specifically the infamously disreputable Jackals), and a large unit of Batarians who specifically joined forces with the Covenant to kill more humans and only turned coat due to the Covenant using them as Cannon Fodder. Furthermore, amongst the humans, the ODSTs and the rest of the UNSC troops mistrust one another due to taking different sides when the former mutinied in the final act of the previous work. Word of God has compared it to what would have happened if Star Trek: Voyager had not dropped the Enemy Mine setup a few episodes in.
- The Antumbra Saga, to a large part, involves building a coalition to put a stop to the renegade IJS under Keiji Saito and their ethnic cleansing programs in CalFree. Among the factions you can recruit to the cause are two Great Dragons, two Mega Corps, an underground education movement, a backwoods law enforcement agency and an ork supremacist militia. All of these factions agree that Saito has to be stopped, and all of them have mutually exclusive plans for San Fransisco after Saito is ousted.
- Happens with the chickens in Chicken Run. Ginger is The Leader among the chickens trying to organize an escape, but finds herself butting heads with Bunty, who's more resigned to being on the chicken farm. The eventually do pull together to escape, but it takes a lot of work.
- Trolls: World Tour: Despite every Troll Tribe realizing that the Rock Trolls are a genuine threat, they're not willing to trust each other for help.
- Marvel Cinematic Universe:
- This is a major part of The Avengers exacerbated by Loki's manipulations. Tony and Steve dislike each other on principle, there's some Jurisdiction Friction with Thor, Bruce would rather be anywhere else lest he hulk out, and no one except maybe Natasha trusts S.H.I.E.L.D. Clint, who's under Loki's control for most of the movie, is actually one of the better team players once he snaps out of it. It takes the death of a Sacrificial Lion for the team to get down to business.
- Avengers: Age of Ultron has both constant squabbling once Tony ends up creating the homicidal robot from the title, and another mind control-induced fight as a Brainwashed and Crazy Hulk goes on rampage and a Hulkbuster armor is used to stop him.
- Then Captain America: Civil War brings it up to eleven, as the title makes clear. And it was enforced by Manipulative Bastard Zemo, who wanted the Avengers to destroy themselves through in-fighting as revenge.
- The trope takes its name from this scene in Monty Python's Life of Brian. When the People's Front of Judea runs into the rival Campaign for a Free Galilee in Pilate's mansion (who are attempting the same bit of anti-Roman terrorism) and they start fighting, Brian pleads "Brothers, we should be struggling together!" One of the revolutionaries immediately responds, "We are!" Then, when Brian attempts to remind them that they should be "united against the common enemy", the revolutionaries initially think he is referring to another rival movement, the Judean People's Front. In the end, the two groups end up killing each other before the guards even show up, leaving Brian (as the only non-participant in the fight) as the only survivor. The various factions were modeled by the Pythons on British left-wing political groups of the 1970s (the year the movie was released, the left was represented by no less than 15 separate parties, plus more sub-factions within both Labour and the smaller splinter groups). Interestingly, this portrayal of First century anti-Roman movements in Palestine is pretty much spot-on Truth in Television, and John Cleese's knowledge of Latin make it pretty likely that he, at least, knew how accurate it was.
- In Braveheart, after the Scottish army deals a major defeat to the English at Stirling, William Wallace is disappointed to see the Scottish nobles feuding with one another over claims to the Scottish throne.
Wallace: We have beaten the English, but they'll be back because you won't stand together.
- The high command of the Continental Army in The Crossing. Both General Lee and General Gates try to subvert or sabotage General Washington, and Gates outright calls Washington unfit for command. This even though the whole revolution is in imminent danger of collapse, regardless of who is in charge. (Truth in Television here, too.)
- The good guys in The Fifth Element. The Federated Territories, the Mondoshawans, their priests and Dallas are all fighting for the common goal to stop the Ultimate Evil of destroying all life, but half the movie's conflict is them working against each other. The Mondoshawans distrusted mankind and kept the elemental stones necessary to stop the Evil out of their reach. The government is trying to contain Mr. Shadow any way they can, but they ignore the Mondoshawan high priest's advice. Leeloo, who is also the weapon created to stop Evil becomes a fugitive after being revived by the government, escaping their facility, crashing into Dallas' cab, which also makes him pursued as an accomplice. The priests themselves also distrust Dallas, thinking he is a nobody that got dragged into a mess he can't possibly understand, despite him being a former soldier that was reactivated to find the stones by his superiors from The Federation.
- The various factions in Russia after the overthrow of the Tsar, as shown in And Quiet Flows the Don. The anti-White Cossacks split up into Bolshevik Cossacks that want political union with Bolshevik Russia, and anti-Bolshevik Cossacks that want an independent Don Cossack homeland.
- Towards the beginning of There Will Be Blood, Daniel Plainview gives a sales pitch to a large group who have discovered oil under their property. When he opens the floor up for discussion, there is so much chaos among the people that he just walks out, and tells a guy who catches up to him that he wouldn't take the lease even if they gave it to him as a gift.
- Reds: The American socialist-communist left is plagued with this. In one scene John Reed and his allies are kicked out of a Socialist Party convention. They assemble in the basement of the convention hall to proclaim a Communist Party for America, only to be confronted by Louis Farina (Paul Sorvino) who has proclaimed an entirely different splinter Communist Party and demands Reed's allegiance. Reed goes to Russia to get his Communist Party declared the official one for the USA, only for the Bolsheviks to tell him that his party and Farina's party have to merge.
- Star Wars:
- Rogue One:
- In a first for the Star Wars series, La Résistance is shown struggling with this trope. Not only does the Rebel Alliance consist of various squabbling factions, but it also has a Renegade Splinter Faction. This effectively replaces the original trilogy's Black-and-White Morality with Black-and-Gray Morality.
- The Galactic Empire isn't any better. Orson Krennic, the mastermind behind the Death Star, feels threatened by both Darth Vader and Grand Moff Tarkin. Krennic wants Vader's approval and tries to undermine Tarkin, who took control of the Death Star away from him. Needless to say, neither Vader nor Tarkin have much respect for Krennic with the former giving him a non-lethal Force choke and the latter using the Death Star to kill him. All of their infighting and mistrust backfires for the Imperials, as they couldn't set aside their rivalries long enough to stop the Rebels from stealing the Death Star plans and ultimately destroying the Empire's ultimate weapon.
- The Last Jedi: Kylo Ren and General Hux really hate each other. Even though they hold the same rank within the First Order, serving as Co-Dragons to Supreme Leader Snoke, Hux repeatedly antagonizes Kylo Ren and tries to kill an unconscious Kylo. The only thing preventing Kylo from killing Hux is Snoke and when Snoke dies, Ren happily uses the Force to knock Hux down a peg. By the time of The Rise of Skywalker, Hux so despises Ren that he starts feeding information to the Resistance, just to spite him.
- Rogue One:
- Defiance: The Bielski and Soviet Partisans have an uneasy alliance, with the latter not holding up their end very well.
- Both revolutions depicted in the Che Guevara Biopic Che suffer from this:
- In Cuba, the conflict is between the urban movement and the rural movement. They both oppose Batista, but the urban movement favors a general strike and is for labor reform but not land reform, while the rural movement, led by Fidel Castro, believes that Batista must be brought down through guerrilla warfare, and are in favor of both labor and land reform. Ultimately, the urban movement agrees to join with Castro after their attempt at a general strike is put down.
- In Bolivia, the Bolivian Communist Party outright refuses to support Che Guevara's call for an armed struggle, saying that the time is not right and they need to build a political base first. Che suspects that this is an excuse, and that the Soviet Union, who by this point regarded Che as a rogue agent, ordered the Communist Party not to help. Che and his band end up fighting the government of René Barrientos alone.
- The First Philippine Republic, as shown in Heneral Luna suffered from this greatly. The biggest problem the titular general has turns out not to be the invading Americans, but his fellow generals and his president's cabinet who are far more interested in securing their personal or business interests rather than defending their country. Too often, he goes and finds them either idle and abed with a woman or celebrating a local feast when the Americans are on the advance. For their part, the Americans are rather amazed at how much discord there is in the Filipino ranks to the point that they laugh themselves silly when they learn that General Luna was killed by his own allies for reasons unrelated to the war.
- This continues into the sequel, Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral, with what's left of Luna's friends and allies butting heads with Aguinaldo's loyalists. For example, Aguinaldo and Del Pilar surround the house of Jose Alejandrino with troopers prior to a talk where they desperately need to secure his cooperation. He makes them wait anyway and, after the talk, demands answers about the circumstances of Antonio Luna's death.
- In The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, during the Council at Rivendell, no one can agree on anything. Elrond wants to destroy the Ring, Boromir wants to use the Ring to help Gondor, Gimli doesn't trust the elves and it isn't long before everyone starts arguing with each other and even Gandalf is yelling. And it's because the Ring is deliberately sowing distrust and chaos. But as soon as Frodo, despite being terrified and overwhelmed, declares he will take the Ring to Mordor, the one thing that all these seasoned warriors unanimously agrees upon is that this little brave hobbit must be protected.
- Return of the Secaucus Seven: Jeff (a drug counselor) and Chip (a speechwriter for a senator) get into an extended argument about whether or not it's better to work within the system to make change (which is Chip's view), or if doing so is automatically selling out (Jeff's view).
- Dieppe: during the planning for the commando raid on Dieppe during World War II, there is much resistance by the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force to putting capital ships and heavy bombers at risk in supporting the Army troops who were actually making the beach landing. Air Marshal Harris, the head of Bomber Command, meets with the Army commander, General Roberts. The meeting concludes with Harris reluctantly agreeing to provide 150 planes. Later, Roberts finds out from his own commanders, Admiral Mountbatten and Captain Hughes-Hallett, that the Air Force has gone on record as refusing to provide the aircraft because, in Harris's words, the Army stated they weren't necessary. Mountbatten angrily confronts a confused Roberts and demands to know what was said during his meeting with Air Marshal Harris:
Mountbatten: Did you tell him how important bombers were?
Roberts: I begged.
Mountbatten: Harris isn't the sort to make things up.
Hughes-Hallett: He keeps detailed minutes of meetings.
Roberts: He did ask me if I would proceed if the bombers couldn't take off.
Hughes-Hallett: [horrified] You didn't say yes!
Roberts: [indignant] Of course I bloody well said yes. I'm a soldier!
Mountbatten: [incredulous] Roberts! That's the oldest trick in the book! The second you concede a circumstance in which you would proceed without bombers, it follows that the bombers aren't really required.
Roberts: Forgive me for thinking we were on the same side.
- Game of Thrones:
- One of the main factors in the War of the Five Kings is that Renly and Stannis of House Baratheon fight each other rather than presenting a united front against Joffrey and marching on King's Landing right away.
- The constant in-fighting among the wildlings prevented them from being a serious threat to the Seven Kingdoms until Mance Rayder united them. Furthermore, the renewed threat of the White Walkers pushed the Night's Watch and the Wildlings to work together, and later the entire North (including the Wildlings) along with the Targaryen empire. However, when they attempted to unite the other kingdoms to fight their common enemy, Cersei decided she would rather lie to their faces and risk The End of the World as We Know It than work with her enemies.
- Davos's relationship with Melisandre. Davos openly mistrusts her and works to thwart her on several occasions.
Melisandre: I'm not your enemy.
Davos: You are my enemy!
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine mentions that after the Cardassian occupation ended, Bajoran factions that had fought in unity against them began struggling for power. A good portion of the first couple seasons talked about how "provisional" the Provisional Government was. The second season began with an attempted coup against them. It's eventually discovered that the Cardassians secretly backed the group attempting the coup, by providing them weapons through a neutral intermediary and then encouraging the coup through careful manipulation by spies.
- The Cardassian Resistance during the Dominion War had some cracks in it, mainly between hard-liners who wanted to just reinstall the old Cardassian Union, and the faction led by Damar that understood the old government's corruptions allowed the Dominion in. It ends when everyone in the Resistance except Kira, Damar, and Garak is wiped out. Damar ends up leading a new Resistance made up of civilians, who look to him as their leader and are willing to go along with what he says, avoiding most of the infighting of the previous attempt.
- Taskmaster features a very good example of this as it relates to general teamwork rather than political disagreements. Normally, the teamwork tasks make it clear that the teams are supposed to work together to complete the task, but in the episode "Meat" of Series Four, the team members are each given individual tasks relating to a bath (one is assigned the task of filling it with as many objects as possible, another to cover it with clingfilm and, in the case of the three-member team, the third is asked to fill it with water) without, initially, telling the other members of the team what their task is. Unfortunately, one team fails to realise it's still a team task and events degenerate into absolute chaos, with two members ending up not just undoing but outright sabotaging each others' efforts while the third simply watches without lifting a finger to intervene. Conversely, after some initial confusion the other team quickly realises they're supposed to complete all tasks, with one member helping the other after he's completed his part. Unsurprisingly, the cooperative team does better than the in-fighting team.
- The West Wing:
- In one episode Toby is assigned to show up at a town hall meeting for anti-globalization protesters, who are depicted as people being more in love with the sound of their own loudly expressed self-righteous outrage than the actual issues at hand. Within seconds of Toby introducing himself and being asked the first question, the audience start shouting over the top of each other to insult him, before the entire gathering degenerates into chaos and splinter groups in-fighting with each other. Toby, for his part, watches with amusement until he gets bored and leaves, everyone having forgotten he was there. Of course, this being The West Wing, he later goes back in and blows them out of the water with a speech we only get to hear about from Josh.
- Season 6 of the show focuses on the build-up to the party primary elections to decide who each party's next candidate for President will be. A key running theme is the fractured bickering between the various factions of the Democratic party, represented by three major candidates for President, versus the Republicans unifying relatively quickly behind their candidate. It culminates in a chaotic convention wherein no candidate can get a clear majority over the others and then one of the state governors tries to get themselves nominated from the floor, thus splintering things even further. Eventually provides a subversion in that the Democratic candidate who eventually manages to knock enough heads together to get themselves nominated ends up rallying and winning the election, albeit narrowly.
- Several episodes of 'Allo 'Allo! are based on the (historically based) rivalry between De Gaulle's Resistance and the Communist Resistance.
- A few episodes of Stargate SG-1 deal with the attempts at a Tok'ra/Jaffa alliance. Essentially, what it boiled down to was the Jaffa couldn't see the differences between Tok'ra and Goa'uld, and the Tok'ra couldn't see the differences between a Jaffa serving a Goa'uld and a Free Jaffa. This caused problems.
- On Stargate Atlantis, this is the basic history behind the Wraith civil war. Atlantis appears? Blast it. Not enough food? Blast each other so that there IS enough for those left. Replicators killing our food? Blast them then resume blasting each other per point 2. We have some Atlantean buddies? Recruit them to help us with point 2.
- On Entourage, Ari Gold's marriage is about as turbulent as any given war and yet they've remained together. "When we got married, we agreed to suffer this monogamy together, baby!"
- Yes, Minister:
- Sir Humphrey argues that this trope is essentially how Britain managed the liberation of its former colonies through partition — in dividing the territories (such as Northern Ireland and Eire, or India and Pakistan), the idea was that they'd spend more time bickering with each other and less time taking shots at Britain.
- He also asserts that after Britain failed to break up the EEC from the outside, they resorted to joining it, as from the inside "We can make a complete dog's breakfast of the whole thing. We have now set the Germans against the French, the French against the Italians, the Italians against the Dutch... and the Foreign Office is terribly happy. It's just like old times."
- In the PBS documentary Constitution USA, host Peter Sagal says that this was intentional with the United States government. The system of checks and balances set up by the writers of the Constitution are intended to keep the three branches in tension with one another to prevent any one branch from amassing too much power.
- In Arthur of the Britons, one of the biggest problems Arthur faces in attempting to unite the Celtic tribes against the Saxons is that the Celts are just as willing to fight each other as they are to fight the Saxons - perhaps even more, due to ancient grudges.
- Black Sails is practically built on this trope. The pirates want two things: treasure and control of Nassau, but the endless in-fighting among themselves as to how they procure and keep these things means they never manage to hold onto them for very long. A prime example occurs in season four: to regain control of the island, the pirates decide to free all the slaves living in the interior. But in a bid to preempt the slaves defecting to the pirates, the estate managers have already separated the slave families and decreed that if any one estate revolts, family members will be punished elsewhere. This leads to a disagreement between Flint and Billy: whether to retreat from a single estate so as to keep the trust of their would-be allies, or to forcibly free and enlist them despite the reprisals that would be visited upon their families. A fight breaks out, and by the time everything is under control, the slaves have formed their own uprising, one that doesn't want anything to do with Nassau's legal residents or the pirates.
- The Resistance is not just one united group in LA. The main group followed is led by Broussard, who is willing to shoot members to prevent their capture, but is working to gain information and advantage, not just wanton violence which is known to lead to the abandonment or 'Rendition' (read: extermination) of entire blocks. In the second season, a new faction called Red Hand emerges, willing to use suicide bombs and target civilians. After a cautious meeting over alien tech the Red Hand stole, Broussard concludes that their only objective is destruction, and leads a mission to give it to them.
- We learn the aliens have both hardliners and moderates also, with the former pushing for LA's rendition into the Factory.
- The people running the Colonial Transition Authority spend more time stabbing each other in the back and jockeying for position than actually running the occupation.
- Guerrilla: A German Marxist group isn't keen about supporting the British Black Panthers, since they aren't sufficiently radical for their taste. Eventually they come around.
- Up the Women: The BICCPRWS's plans are often hindered by the actions of the more militant Banbury Free Suffragette Army. Numerous other suffragette groups are mentioned, for example the Young Suffrage Army (splinter group from the Banbury Free Suffragette Army) who took to referring to themselves as the Banbury Young Hot Bloods after their split from the Banbury New Hot Bloods, who in turn re-formed as the Banbury Free Young Hotties (not to be confused with the Banbury Bloody Hot Suffrage Squad — nor the Banbury Blood Transfusion Society, for that matter).
- A French Village: The Communists are at first hostile toward Suzanne given she's a Socialist, whose party they consider traitors. Begrudgingly they do accept her later, then believe she's spying on them and order that she be killed. Marcel, who's tasked with this, helps her fake her death. Later, the Communists make common cause with the Gaullists for a united resistance front, but plan on taking over all other groups and then later also France itself through doing so. However, with the Liberation squabbling becomes endemic.
- Pennyworth: The English League is a coalition of the various groups who choose to oppose the fascist Raven Union during the Civil War in Season 2. This includes royalists, clergy, assorted moderates, remnants of the socialist No-Name League and outright communists; the ruling committee that actually runs things in the Queen's name is composed of over 20 members. The CIA refers to this entire arrangement as a "shitshow", and when Inspector Aziz is appointed to the committee he does not know whether to consider it a promotion or a punishment.
- Seijuu Sentai Gingaman: The reason the Space Pirates Balban lost to the first generation of Gingaman was due to constant infighting among the four sub-groups that made up the organization. When they are revived in the present day, Captain Zahab insists upon only one group acting at a time in order to prevent this from repeating, not that it works in the long run as the infighting resumes in subtler ways.
- In The Bible, Korah leads a revolt of Levites who object to Aaron being the High Priest; Moses responds by saying that God will do a miracle for the person He picks, and holds a contest where all 250 rebels and Aaron compete. Some commentators have noted the hypocrisy here: all of them ally against Aaron, yet each clearly thinks that he's more worthy than his fellow rebels.
- In the New Testament Book of Corinthians, St. Paul writes to the church in Corinth to admonish them that, since they are all part of the one Christian faith, they should not be splitting up into factions and fighting between themselves. He chides them further that their factions seem mostly to be based on a Silly Reason for War, such as what foods they are allowed to eat, which gifts are better, or which apostle is the coolest.
- The Adventure Zone: Ethersea: The prologue plays with this, as it focuses on people from four very different kingdoms who have spent much of history at each other's throats trying to come together to form a new society under the ocean in order to guarantee humanity's survival After the End. While the impending crisis does force everyone to work together and give them a common goal, and they do ultimately manage to create the city of Founders' Wake, it's anything but easy, especially with conflicting philosophies, priorities, and religions. There's an attempt to defy this trope by electing a representative from each kingdom to serve on a council to give the community some form of leadership and order, but the counsellors themselves don't inspire a ton of confidence, and citizens such as the Boyar Hermine have a habit of going over their heads (or behind their backs) to get things done.
- Pili Fantasy: War of Dragons: No side has particularly good teamwork. The good guy Eight Tiger Generals don't even know all of each other, but at least those who do collaborate.
- Discord Plays Stellaris. All of it. No matter how dire the situation, the players can't really come together, turning to inner conflict instead. The coalition fights against coalition, party against party, member against member, military against senate, scientist against secret services and generally everyone against everybody else.
- 1776 is another case of Truth in Fiction, at least in its full, unexpurgated form. The only thing the members of the Continental Congress can agree on is that the status quo is untenable. Everything else, from declaring independence from Britain to slavery to deep-sea fishing rights, is contentious and even getting a simple majority is difficult. (Watching the film makes it clear that, ante 1783, the "original 13" were a semi-random subset of a much larger and more diverse jumble of British North American possessions.) What drives most of the plot is the requirement that independence be approved by all 13 state delegations, and it takes a LOT of dirty, dirty politicking to get enough votes. And what was going on in Congress was the bloodless part of the Whig ascendancy — see the entry below on the American Revolution for more information.
- As Psycholonials progresses, the Jublilites, a revolutionary anarchistic anti-capitalist group, split into countless competing factions. In Chapter 8, factional infighting between Jubilite camps leaves dozens dead, including most of the higher-ups, and this only gets worse at the end of the game after Z abdigates, in which there is an endless cycle of new leaders taking over and then getting immediately killed and replaced by someone else.
- This is typically how the Yogscast series Cornerstone progresses. Despite all having common goals to work on and very pressing survival issues, such as hostile mobs and a lack of food, the various members have to furiously fight to get themselves elected, then need to struggle with what little materials they have (for such a large group). Even when needed materials later become available, Hat Films form a cult devoted to a giant golden hand and start antagonising the others.
- A major theme in RWBY is the concept of unity and division, as Salem realizes how powerful humanity is when working together and as her M.O., she tries to divide them and cause them to fight each other. Case in point, the Atlas Arc spanning between Volumes 7 & 8 where, due to a Batman Gambit on her and Cinder's part, cause General Ironwood and Team RWBY to get into conflict as to how to deal with Salem's impending invasion, resulting in the two sides conflicting with and crippling each other enough for Salem and Cinder to get away with having two powerful items in hand while those opposed to them are either dead, MIA, or stuck in another Kingdom altogether while Atlas is destroyed.
- Digger summarizes the trope nicely:
Murai: He's not an evil man. Not really.
Digger: There really aren't that many evil men out there. It's mostly just good men working at cross-purposes.
- Existential Comics: This comic plays this for laughs by having famous socialist revolutionaries squabbling during a Dungeons & Dragons session, as an allegory for the real-life schisms of the radical left.
- By Act 6 Intermission 3, there are at least three active, conflicting plans to defeat Lord English. Each plan has exactly one person who is completely behind it...and beyond that it gets very fuzzy, with most of the other characters either being doubtful of any of the plans' chances or outright apathetic to the whole thing. Mix in interpersonal drama, hot-tempered teenagers, and an extremely complex relationship situation and "opposition to Lord English" doesn't look so much like a side as a hot mess. The tension reaches a head when Vriska and Meenah end up coming to blows rather dramatically over nothing more than getting on each others' nerves.
- Making matters worse, there is one side against Lord English which plans on conquering everything and ruling with an iron fist afterwards. All the other anti-Lord English sides are also at odds with one another to the point of coming to blows about how to deal with that problem.
- This The Order of the Stick strip parodies the trope while members of La Résistance argue about some nonsense, adding some necessary Monty Python references. A later strip reveals there are also three rival resistances, distinguished (somewhat) by their views on who is to blame for the invasion and who should take over once the revolution succeeds (they were united, eventually, by their common loyalty to the deceased former Lord of the city).
- Subverted in Reds!; the socialist revolution in the United States in the 1930s proves to have sufficient ideological flexibility to enable opposing points of view to be heard (both among competing left-wing ideologies and more conservative voices that nevertheless oppose the military junta they're all fighting against) while still ensuring an overall socialist victory, and ultimately proves more successful in this regard than the rigid ideological inflexibility of the Soviet Union. The relationship between the Soviet Union and America following this, however, plays the trope straight, since they ultimately split due to ideological differences and spend as much time plotting against each other as their capitalist enemies. Interestingly though, this leads to a situation where the Soviet Union have to directly act as the voice of the reason and talk American from starting World War III with Britain and France.
- The Ruins of an American Party System has a few examples:
- The Great Recovery Coalition was formed by President Floyd Olson by uniting his Progressive Party with the Socialists and the Commonwealth Party, in order to overcome the Great Depression. However, under his successor Fiorello LaGuardia it falls apart — first off, the Socialists and more radical Progressives are infuriated by LaGuardia making the "corrupt bargain" of agreeing to cut off excessive federal spending to Socialist-run California in exchange for the Republicans agreeing to support a universal healthcare bill, and they break away from LaGuardia's more moderate wing of the party. Meanwhile, LaGuardia engages in a power struggle with Commonwealth leader Huey Long, causing that party to spin off in its own agenda.
- The Republicans have their own internal problems as well. On the one hand, there's fiscal conservatives like Robert Taft and Herbert Hoover who despise the welfare state that the GRC set up. On the other, there's more liberal-moderate members like Alf Landon and Franklin D. Roosevelt who realize that it's not going away any time soon and should be accepted.
- When civil rights legislation starts getting pushed through Congress in the '40s, the Commonwealth starts splitting between racial moderates willing to settle for heavily amending the Civil Rights Act so that it's barely effective, and hardliners who want to block the bill altogether.
- It's noted that Gandhi's calm and peaceful leadership is the only thing keeping the Indian independence movement from breaking apart due to infighting between the Communist wing and the various religious/nationalist groups.
- Twitch Plays Pokémon is essentially tens of thousands of people simultaneously attempting to button mash their way through a single copy of Pokemon: Red. There is several subgroups fighting each other because of personal interests, like having a Vaporeon or a Lapras, but ultimately, everyone, after fighting themselves over those things, collaborate on the greater goal of finishing the game. Even if they don't know what the next step is, as long as someone comes with a clear and straightforward next step, they will struggle together.
- In Ben 10: Ultimate Alien Charmcaster and the other rebel factions of Ledgerdomian immediately started fighting each other after overthrowing Adwaita because they all wanted to rule. Charmcaster won.
- On episode of Doug has the students forming an organization to protest the school's decision to start requiring students to wear uniforms, but they end up fracturing into smaller organizations due to disagreements. Ultimately the school never goes through with the decision because the members of the school staff can't agree on what the uniforms should look like.
- DuckTales: F.O.W.L., despite being one of the most dangerous adversaries faced by Scrooge McDuck and his family, can't seem to get along all that well within their own organization. Most of it boils down to the Pragmatic Villainy approach by leader Bradford Buzzard (who prefers doing things in a way that don't attract a great deal of attention, and wants to rule the world from the shadows to reign in all the chaos going on) and just about everyone else (who are practically as evil as they come and want to rule the world courtesy of grandiose, far more imaginative schemes).
- This is basically the nature of the Legion of Doom (No, not that one, or that one) from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. Grogar recruits a team of villains telling them the reason they failed as individuals against the ponies is that the ponies are strong as a team, wanting them to pull the villainous variant of The Power of Friendship to take them down. King Sombra refusing and going off on his own, and getting a brutal on-screen death for it, hammers the point home and the rest agree to at least attempt to work together. In "Frenemies" it works a little too well, and Chrysalis, Cozy Glow, and Tirek decide to team up against Grogar as well as the ponies, but they're still insistent that they're not friends.
- South Park: When Cartman accidentally ends up in the future during the "God is Dead" episodes, it's revealed that the reason for the Great War is because the Atheists couldn't decide on the name of their nation. While they're all basically on the same side, they still manage not to get along for petty reasons.
- Star Wars Rebels: Inverted, as a recurring theme throughout the series is how The Empire deals almost as much damage to itself as the Rebels do thanks to rampant infighting, factionalism, and opportunism. The Inquisitors don't work together to hunt force-users, they actively compete with each other over kills and promotions. Grand Admiral Thrawn repeatedly finds himself undermined by glory-seekers and incompetents who disobey his orders, botch missions, or go over his head to the Emperor so they can have their way. In one episode, Darth Vader attempts to disable the Ghost in his fighter, only for Admiral Konstantin's star destroyer to accidentally snare him in a tractor beam with their own attempt to nab the Ghost, allowing our heroes to escape while Vader rages in his fighter and Konstantin starts blaming his own bridge crew. Put simply, teamwork is not the Empire's strong-suit.
- In Voltron: Legendary Defender, after Emperor Zarkon dies at Lotors hands, it quickly becomes apparent that having a singular leader is the only thing holding the Galra Empire together. Everybody in high command wants the job of Emperor, and they quickly begin fighting and bickering with each other. The meeting held to decide a line of succession ends up turning into a bloodbath, with the Galra forces ignoring Voltron in favor of killing each other. The chaos is only ended when Lotor manages to light the imperial flame and thus officially become Emperor, forcing everyone to stand down. Even then, Sendak refuses to acknowledge Lotors rule as legitimate and takes a bunch of ships to start his own faction.