Say you're a villain and your Evil Plan is being ruined by this pesky hero who just will not let you scheme in peace. You've sent Mooks, you've berated your underlings for their failure, maybe you've even tried shooting him/her. No dice, the hero keeps coming. You can't beat them!
Well, if you can't beat them, don't join them — offer to let them join you. That's right: you can become the partner in crime/trusted advisor/ruler of Australia if you will just drop this silly crusade against the Evil Overlord and get with the program. Go on, those oppressed peasants you're fighting for won't mind — they'll understand that you can't let an opportunity like this slide. The offer is usually made by someone who needs to Pick on Someone Your Own Size with a Circling Monologue.
When this offer is made, it's usually a sign that either the hero or the villain is going to die very soon. If not, it's the hero's final rejection of the villain's vision and marks the point where things get serious...
Because the hero rarely follows up on the offer. From the human perspective, it's a pretty foolish move anyway. How could any villain ever be serious about hiring someone who's been thwarting their evil schemes every step of the way, especially when it's a morally righteous Cape? How could the villain possibly trust someone treacherous enough to do such a blatant Face–Heel Turn?
- From the evil perspective, it makes perfect sense. Temptation is part of the complete Evil package. Every evil force is looking to expand its membership. (Of course, some villains are more persistent than others.)
- Some villains are just so evil that they literally cannot comprehend why the hero's fighting — they don't believe in love, loyalty, honor, and so forth, and can't believe the good guy really does, either.
- The villain just decides it's worth the risk — if the good guy's this impressive when Good Is Dumb, imagine how great he might be as an Evil Minion!
- The villain has some connection to the hero (either blood relation or childhood friends, usually), and despite being evil still cares about him. He'd much rather convince the hero to join him than to kill somebody he'd prefer to keep alive.
- The villain takes an interest in the hero either as a Worthy Opponent for themselves and/or sees the hero as a potentially powerful ally.
- The villain has a romantic and/or sexual interest in the hero. While Villainesses Want Heroes is more common, the gender-flipped variant is not unheard of. In the case of Anti-Villains, this usually overlaps with Even Evil Has Loved Ones or Dating Catwoman.
- The villain has a huge ego and craves the validation that having the hero join him would bring.
- The villain is using More than Mind Control to undermine the hero's confidence, morals, or even his very identity. A hero crippled by self-doubt is much more likely to listen to the villain's offer.
- The villain may need the hero to join him for some Evil Plan he's putting into motion to work.
- The villain is an Affably Evil Well-Intentioned Extremist who genuinely believes that he's in the right and would rather win the hero over than kill him.
The final case can be particularly chilling because the villain believes he is offering the hero a chance to do the right thing and will be surprised (or, in the case of a Knight Templar, outraged) at being turned down.
The villain's momentary admiration for the hero usually (intentionally) leaves lasting scars. If the villain is a little too insistent, then expect Foe Romance Subtext to occur. The specific and openly romantic variation where a villainess offers the hero a chance to become her consort is covered under Villainesses Want Heroes.
Some video games may give this option to the player, leading to an alternate ending or a Non Standard Game Over. In a great many cases, an "evil" player's scripted response to this offer is commonly the player killing the villain and seizing the Cosmic Keystone. Certain villains should be aware that even success can be dangerous to them if the Fallen Hero doesn't feel like sharing power.
The three most common responses are:
- The hero agrees, and gladly partakes in evil deeds.
- The hero joins, only to betray the villain later on.
- A refusal that consists of either a "No More Holding Back" Speech, Kirk Summation, Shut Up, Hannibal!, or a mix of the three, where a hero shows his true colors.
The inversion is Last-Second Chance when it's the hero making the offer to the villain. I Can Rule Alone is a very common subversion.
Contrast You Could Have Used Your Powers for Good!, which is another way the hero may try to bring the villain over to the good side, and Offered the Crown, where the hero is offered power by the good guys as a reward for heroism.
Compare Last Chance to Quit, Deal with the Devil. See also "Leave Your Quest" Test and I Have You Now, My Pretty.
- Anime & Manga
- Comic Books
- Fan Works
- Film — Animated
- Film — Live-Action
- Live-Action TV
- Video Games
- Western Animation
- Creature of Havoc: If you confront the Sorcerous Overlord Zharradan Marr with the tools to destroy him, he offers you power, wealth, an equal partnership in his empire, and half of the continent with increasing desperation, to no avail. If you're unequipped, you're out of luck.
- The Megas: Snake Man makes this offer to Mega Man in "Walk Away from Light". Not only is it not accepted, Snake Man doesn't make it to the next song.
Snake Man: You can fight for the steel, or die beneath my heel; it's up to you.
- In Richard Wagner's Götterdämmerung, Hagen asks his father Alberich who will inherit the "eternal power" (ewige Macht) of the Ring if he gets it back from Siegfried. Alberich says: "I... and you!" He can't fool his son though.
- Victoria makes this offer to Melina Perez on Monday Night Raw (or rather, a Raw Brand Pay Per View). Melina accepts because Victoria was in one of her psycho phases.
- Austin Aries made this offer to Rich Swann, a gaijin who thought he was being overlooked in Dragon Gate. Swann refused to be Aries's underling though.
- Triple H made an offer to Roman Reigns to join the Authority but he refused.
- In the Star Wars radio series Motti points out that Tarkin could use the Death Star to intimidate the Emperor into sharing power. This doesn't happen because the Death Star gets blown up ten minutes later, taking Motti and Tarkin with it.
- Bleak Expectations: Mr. Benevolent makes this offer to Pip Bin, in a direct reference to The Empire Strikes Back. Pip accepts since it sounds like fun. They then spend the next several decades ruling the Earth, until humanity gets fed up with them. This earns Pip a severe chewing out from The Creator of the Universe.
- Dungeons & Dragons
- In the adventure Vecna Lives, the avatar of Vecna is ready to weaken all the other gods and place himself as the only greater god of Grayhawk. When confronted by the heroes, he'll offer to make one of them a demigod in Vecna's service, if he will just slay the other heroes.
- Dragonlance module DL12 Dragons of Faith. Just before Kitiara leaves the heroes, she says, "Why not join me? Together, we would be invincible!"
- Magic: The Gathering archvillain Yawgmoth defeated Urza this way. Yawgmoth's entire plan to defeat Urza was simply to let him see Phyrexia for himself. Since Urza and Yawgmoth had similar ideas of what the world should be like, it worked.
- During the End Times of Warhammer, this is offered twice to Settra the Imperishable. The first time was shortly after he's defeated at the hands of Nagash when the First Necromancer offered Settra a place at his side and command over his old kingdom, and the second time was when the Chaos Gods restored him in exchange for his service in destroying the world. Both times Settra ends up spitting in their faces, and he only allies with Nagash so he can have the pleasure of killing the necromancer himself.
Settra does not serve!... Settra rules!
- This was the offer the Lawful Evil Seers of the Throne extended to the Nameless Orders early in the nineteenth century: rulership of the world under the Exarches, as the Seers themselves claimed. Most of the Nameless Orders said no. Then they formed the Free Council. Then they backed that "no" up with guns and bombs. The subset of the Seers who extended the offer still haven't recovered from this.
- In Wicked, the Wizard explains his true history to Elphaba towards the start of Act Two and suggests that, though he can't change her skin, he can make her as popular and beloved as he is, if she joins him. She's tempted by the offer — so much so that she joins him in song and dance — and then she sees Doctor Dillamond, or what's become of him, and is reminded of every reason why she despises the Wizard, and always will.
- Interestingly, he also makes this offer to her at the end of act 1, where a younger and more fiery Elphaba rejects his offer out of hand. It seems that in Act 2, Elphaba is less fiery and more willing to consider alternatives, if still just as passionate.
- Also, in the number "Defying Gravity", Elphaba asks Glinda to join her, saying, "Together we're unlimited," but Glinda reluctantly turns her down and wishes her happiness on the path she has chosen.
- This happens a few times in BIONICLE:
- Makuta says this to Mata Nui prior to their Final Battle, although he seemed to be using it as a taunt rather than a serious proposition.
- Makuta offers Vakama a chance to join the Brotherhood upon seeing he has indeed forged the Mask of Time, claiming that he "could have many destinies". It seems oddly sincere, given he could have just tried to take it by force from the start, and he was aware of Vakama's constant self-doubt about being a hero. Vakama answers he only wants one noble destiny.
- There's a variation where Sidorak had an open invitation to another villain, his second-in-command, Roodaka; offering to make her co-ruler as Queen. She holds off on accepting until she can say I Can Rule Alone.
- Meanwhile, during the same arc, Roodaka sways Vakama to her side, as The Dragon of sorts over the Visorak horde. That is, until the end of the movie.
- During the Mahri Nui arc, Makuta, disguised as Maxilos, attempts to sway Matoro to his side.
- This is how Nidhiki wound up joining the Dark Hunters, betraying Metru Nui to the Hunters and letting them establish a powerbase if they would let him rule it as the figurehead. It fails thanks to Lhikan overhearing it, but even if it had succeeded, the Shadowed One would have had Nidhiki slain at the earliest opportunity.
- Ever After High: The Evil Queen offers this to her daughter, Raven (whom she does sincerely love).
It'll be a great bonding experience. Like shopping! Only word domination.
- In Broken Saints, the entire reason Lear pulls the Just Between You and Me at the end — the entire reason Our Heroes are involved in the plot at all — is that he wants them to help him spread the word, as his first apostles.
- King Sombra attempts to use this on Princess Luna in Fall of the Crystal Empire when his Mind Rape of Princess Celestia shows how much Celestia secretly fears Luna.
- In the How It Should Have Ended video for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: while Peter meets his father Ego, Darth Vader suddenly appears. He's happy that they found each other and that they can now take over the galaxy together. Ego nervously denies that.
- Though Helluva Boss doesn't have a hero, much the same dynamic applies with Blitzo — the most important of the heroes it doesn't have — and Striker in episode 5. After the two have bonded over being arrogant badasses, Blitzo is very unhappy to find Striker trying to assassinate Stolas, who's important to Blitzo's business. (He's also royalty, so killing him would be a bit subversive and villainous even by Hell's standards, maybe, meaning even Blitzo would be in the more hero-like role in trying to stop that.) Striker tells him he shouldn't even be running that lousy business in the first place and sucking up to someone like Stolas, and should join Striker in slaying overlords. Blitzo seems to agree — and honestly, it would seem in character, since he's already a killer and seemingly hates Stolas — but immediately takes it back when Moxxie shows up, pointing a gun at Striker. (If you watch a few more episodes, you'll see Blitzo does not hate Stolas in the sense that he could really harm him.) Also parodied in that Blitzo compliments Striker for his pitch and he responds that he's been workshopping it.
- In There Will Be Brawl, Zelda tries this on Link, though it fails. Ganondorf tries this on more or less everyone, to set up for a certain other trope...
- In Dragon Ball Z Abridged, Dodoria attempts this with Vegeta.
Dodoria: "Vegeta, wait! We can team up against Freeza! Rule the universe, as husband and wife!"
- Later, Zarbon tries the same thing, but Vegeta interrupts him, having heard this bit from Dedoria above. He then casually blows him off (and up).
- No homo.
- Later, Zarbon tries the same thing, but Vegeta interrupts him, having heard this bit from Dedoria above. He then casually blows him off (and up).
- Dora the Explorer: The Search for the Infinity Orb - "Join me, Dora. Together we'll be the greatest Swipers the world has ever seen." (Unfortunately, this isn't real, it's just a fake trailer, albeit a really well done one, with Ariel Winter as Dora.)
- During the "Frollo Beats up Evil Residents" arc of The Frollo Show, Achmed Frollo tries to convince regular Frollo to join him in conquering the world with their zombie virus, but fails, possibly because he said Frollo would get to rape Panty.
- It was actually a perfectly ordinary arrangement as an after-victory peace resolution in pre-industrial societies that the loser got to keep most of their territory, and pledged loyalty and/or tribute to the winner. It was difficult and expensive for a pre-industrial society to occupy, incorporate and administrate a foreign territory (that doesn't mean people didn't do it, but even the famously conquer-happy Romans sometimes just had to content themselves with client kings). How loyal the former enemy was to their new lord varied, of course. If they proved truly intractable, a more amenable cousin could easily be offered this trope instead.
- Adolf Hitler repeatedly offered this to Britain before and during World War II, proposing that the British would rule an oceanic empire, while the Germans a continental one. Even when the Luftwaffe was raining down bombs on London he still held out hope that the British would "wise up" and join "their Aryan cousins" in the Nazis' bid for world conquest. They ignored him.
- The British historian Ian Kershaw, one of the world authorities on the Third Reich, said that he was motivated to get into history when he was studying in Germany in the 1970s and an old man said to him in a cafe: "You English are mad - together we could have ruled the entire world."
- Poland got a similar offer in 1934. Hitler's plan was for Poland to join the Axis powers and attack the USSR. One should wonder what could have been had Piłsudski accepted this offer. WWII would probably turn into an anti-communism war in which Axis powers would possibly have conquered western Asia if not all of Russia. But the entire plan was shaky from the start for Hitler talked to Piłsudski and only to him, disregarding his political heirs to the point diplomatic talks were reduced by 1938 to "The Führer asks the impossible / Poles show the middle finger".
Hitler: "He's the only one I could do a deal with."
- More likely, given Hitler's well-known hatred for the Polish people, if Pilduski had actually taken Hitler up on it it probably would have ended up as an instance of I Lied, with the Poles becoming a conquered people anyway to be exterminated to make room for German settlement as soon as they had exhausted their utility in any war against the Soviet Union. That was, after all, Hitler's endgame for all of Eastern Europe.
- Italian statesman Niccolò Machiavelli, in countless examples in his tract The Prince, says that offering this arrangement to another person or fellow ruler is actually a bad idea. After all, people who might be dissatisfied with you can go demand redress to your co-regent and isolate you further.
- The 2022 invasion of Ukraine by Russia is partly founded on theories like those of Aleksandr Dugin, which posits that Russia should establish a multipolar order, pivoting the US away from Europe, in turn offering Germany and France dominance over Western Europe. It also considers no country in Eastern Europe or the remaining northern half of Asia, including China, to have any right to exist outside Russian ownership.