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"A puppet that can no longer be used is mere garbage. This puppet's role has just ended..."

To show or remind the viewer how nasty the Big Bad or his Evil Minions are, a common trope is their habit of callously disposing of anyone who is no longer useful to their plans, whether it be an associate of an evil organization who has just concluded their useful function within that organization, or an outsider who the villain has coerced or tricked into carrying out part of their plan who is killed once they have done what the villain has ordered. It is often punctuated with words to the effect of "Your services are no longer required", "you have served your purpose", or of course the title phrase before the murder.

In the case of a bribed outsider who was only loyal for the promise of money, this does make a little sense. Not only does the Big Bad avoid having to pay them for services rendered, but they remove a direct link back to them as the master of the plot. And there's always the fact that someone who's more loyal to the money than to the cause is a risk to betray the Big Bad to whoever offers them more. Alternatively, it could be to punish a minion for asking for a raise, especially when done right before the critical mission, with the implication that the minion is aware of their own importance and intends to use that as leverage. This is an especially common tactic for dealing with those who betrayed their own side on the villain's orders, who villains will often have Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves — villains are a rather backstabbing lot, and are rather not keen on getting backstabbed themselves.

A particularly callous villain may also do this to an underling who has been defeated, combining this trope with You Have Failed Me. May also happen to a villain who thought he was the Big Bad, but forgot that Evil Is Not a Toy or expected the Sealed Evil in a Can to be loyal to him after its release. More realistically, the victim in question may be privy to information that the villain doesn't want to get out — as the pirates say: "Dead men tell no tales."

Then you have any kind of predatory monster who just thinks there's no point in wasting good meat. Alternatively, you have the villain who notes their underlings do still have some usefulness... but said usefulness doesn't necessarily mean they need to be alive to serve it.

Finally, sociopathic villains are notorious for viewing people as little more than tools to be used and then discarded once they've served their purpose, with this trope being perhaps the ultimate form of this callous attitude.

If the Big Bad is also particularly annoyed by how his Evil Minions have functioned in their role, he may use The Blofeld Ploy.

A variant of this trope is common when a villain who has enlisted the help of the oblivious heroes reveals his true villainy, the comment usually following his gloating of how they played right into his hands. This version of the trope has a noticeably lower success rate, and trying it on The Hero is tantamount to suicide.

If two or more villains are reluctantly working together for the same or similar goal, then typically one or the other will give subtle or not so subtle hints that they intend to dispose of their ‘partners’ once they’ve accomplished their goals. If the villain in-question is a particular type of hard-ass with a gun, then they are a Pushy Gun-Toting Villain.

Compare You Have Failed Me (when the executed underlings are killed because they didn't succeed), Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves, We Have Reserves, and Uriah Gambit. Shoot the Builder, Shoot the Dangerous Minion, Devour the Dragon, and Eat the Summoner are subtropes. Contrast Can't Kill You, Still Need You and Mook Depletion. See also Villainous Demotivator and Even Mooks Have Loved Ones.

As this is a Betrayal Trope and oftentimes a Death Trope, unmarked spoilers abound. Beware.

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    Audio Plays 
  • Big Finish Doctor Who:
    • In Mistfall, Solus never had any attention with of bringing Drell along with him after they assassinate the Decider. Instead, he shoots him, leaving his body as another piece of misdirection.
    • The Nightmare Fair: After Yatsumoto have finalized the preparations for the Toymaker's master plan, the Toymaker has no further use for him and so uses him to test the newest Deadly Game.

  • Quoted in Capcom's unreleased Kingpin, when mobster Pat O'Bunion tries to kill you.
    "We have no more need of yer services."

  • While the Executive from Fallout Is Dragons has yet to do this onscreen, he's never been seen with the same partner twice....

    Pro Wrestling 
  • The National Wrestling Alliance pulled this on SMW in one of the few cases of the NWA going to another promotion for help and then cutting their legs off. Traditionally, a member of the NWA got big (AWA, WWE, WCW, ECW, Impact Wrestling, Zero 1) and then declared the NWA no longer useful.note 
  • After Dude Love failed to defeat "Stone Cold" Steve Austin for the WWF Championship, he tried to apologize to Vince McMahon. The later responds with a Reason You Suck Speech, stating that for all of his hatred for Austin, at least he makes him richer while Dude makes him sick, before ultimately firing him.
  • Between Kurt Angle and The World's Greatest Tag Team the feeling was mutual. Haas and Benjamin were just more violent about it was all.
  • At the first show of Ring of Honor's Fifth Year Festival, Austin Aries and Roderick Strong challenged Generation Next stablemate Matt Sydal and his newer partner Christopher Daniels for the World Tag Team Titles and were unsuccessful when Aries suffered a knee injury. So Strong beat up Aries and announced he was forming a new Tag Team with Davey Richards called No Remorse Corps.
  • While Claudio Castagnoli had kicked Sara Del Rey out of DieBruderschaftDesKreuzes for embarrassing himnote , he seemed to do away with Daizee Haze just because she was Del Rey's tag team partner and a little upset about the send off. This was Sara's Heel–Face Turn match, Claudio's last CHIKARA appearance (he was headed to WWE's developmental promotion Florida Championship Wrestling to become Antonio Cesaro), and Daizee's last CHIKARA appearance as a regular roster member, since she was en route to calling it a career due to losing a battle with anorexia.
  • Carlito laid out Eddie Colon at WWC Aniversario 2009 after he believed La Artilleria Pesada were down and out, meaning Eddie was no longer needed. Turns out Thunder and Lighting still had plenty of fight left in them and now Eddie couldn't help Carlito even if he wanted to.
  • Jessicka Havok left Rain's Army after Rain made peace with Mercedes Martinez following her failure to win the WSU Title.
  • Steve Corino and Jimmy Jacobs ousted Kevin Steen after he lost the Ring of Honor World Title and instated Matt Hardy as the new leader of S.C.U.M.
  • In 2013, Los Bizarros picked up Cuervo, Espiritu and Ozz, former members of Cibernético's Secta, to help them defeat Los Perros Del Ma. Once they finally did though, those same former Secta members, along with Bizarros member Escoria, violently turned on Cibernético. In the end the remaning Bizarros had to take on Perro Aguayo Jr and the first person to usurp Cibernético's position in La Secta, El Mesías, as members for help.
  • After The Undisputed Era convinced Taynara Conti to attack Nikki Cross, they abandon her and back out of whatever deal they struck with her, having succeeded in their plans to further screw with Nikki's stable SAnitY.

    Puppet Shows 
  • In the Dinosaurs episode "Green Card", when B.P. Richfield fires his tree pushers after all the trees have been pushed down, he gives this as the reason they are fired.
  • The Mr. Potato Head Show: A third network executive appears in the finale, who says Mr. Potato Head's show has outlived its usefulness to "The Plan", and tells Aaron and Nora to cancel it.
  • The reason most of the main animals in The Muppet Musicians of Bremen leave their owners.
    Lardpork: [to TR, the rooster] You're no good around the barn anymore, but you might just make a tasty meal.

  • Game 7 of Comic Fury Werewolf. The two Wolves decided to backstab the Framer mere days away from victory. It turned out later that they'd just forgotten that he was on their side, but the Trope was used in the Death Scene anyway.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Cardfight!! Vanguard has multiple clans that use this as part of their play style, to tie back to the card lore. The Tachikaze, Shadow Paladin, Great Nature and Gold Paladin clans all use the trope as a mechanic, but each clan does it at a different point in your turn, and in Tachikaze's case you can revive the units just to kill them again.
  • Antiheroic example in Exalted, with the Solar Exalt Arianna summoning a demon to lead her to a copy of the Broken-Winged Crane, then destroying it and turning on the demon:
    Demon: You... you used me!
    Arianna: Indeed. And now your usefulness has ended!
  • Game of the Generals: Downplayed for the Privates once both enemy Spies are gone. Since players aren't supposed to know what their opponent's pieces are, they can still serve as distractions, pull False Flag Operations, and capture the flag.
  • This is one way to use Abyssal Persecutor in Magic: The Gathering. Bring him out super early, use him to beat your opponent senseless until his effect is the only thing keeping them alive, then kill Abyssal Persecutor yourself and win.
  • Can happen in Shadowrun due to the nature of the players' work (performing dirty, deniable jobs for mega-corp agents known collectively as 'Mr. Johnson'). Most Johnsons refrain from tying up loose ends by killing the runners they hire because it's bad for future business to get a reputation for not being true to the deal. Mr. Js with hot heads, personal dirty laundry involved or just ignorant of the code of conduct in the shadows still sometimes try it. The Runner's Handbook splatbook notes that while a Johnson may screw himself out of future deals by wasting a couple runners, it's not really much of a comfort to the poor sods he killed now is it?
  • Star Wars Armada: Darth Vader's officer version allows friendly ships to discard officer cards to get rerolls on attack dice. Conveniently, the Empire has quite a few officer cards with limited uses or whose abilities cease to be useful after a certain point of the game, allowing Vader to crush their necks for rerolls as soon as that's more tactically advantageous than letting them live. In a nice little bit of Gameplay and Story Integration, Admiral Ozzel and Captain Needa - the Trope Namer for You Have Failed Me and the guy whose body got thrown on the pile on top of his - both have abilities that apply before the game even starts and have no effect during it, and as such the main consideration for whether to have Vader kill them is just whether to do it now or hold off for a future attack that might need them more.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Genestealer Cults as well infiltrate Imperial worlds ahead of Tyranid splinter fleets, assist them in taking over the planet however way they can... and then end up as Tyranid chow once they've done their job. "true" cultists are already linked to the hive mind by then, but those they roped along typically have no idea that this is going to happen, and are very unpleasantly surprised when what they thought were angelic saviors come to to their aid start slaughtering them.
    • The Emperor had the Thunder Warriors purged after they helped him take over Earth. The justification for this was that the Thunder Warriors were psychologically and physically unstable due to their flawed Bio-Augmentation (which was caused by the extreme time crunch he was operating on). Keeping them around was just too dangerous to the rest of humanity.
    • The Horus Heresy was kicked off when Horus came to the erroneous conclusion (inspired by the words of his already corrupted brother Lorgar and a misleading vision of the future) that the Emperor was planning to do the same thing to the Primarchs and the Space Marines once the Great Crusade was complete. It certainly didn't help that Horus was already feeling uncertain about what purpose the Primarchs would have in a galaxy where humanity was truly supreme.
    • At one point, Ahriman was offered a "reward" for being such a good pawn in Tzeentch's service: oblivion. But when you think about it, in this setting, dying can result in your soul being claimed as plaything by the Chaos Gods for all eternity. In its own twisted way, this is a sincere Pet the Dog moment, especially coming from Tzeentch. Fortunately (or unfortunately?) for Ahriman, Tzeentch just found another use for him.

  • Makuta Teridax from BIONICLE has done this a couple times in the story.
    • In the wake of the Great Cataclysm in the Adventures arc (also seen in the Legends of Metru Nui film), Teridax absorbs Nidhiki and Krekka, as well as his pet Nivawk after he found the need for their services irrelevant. This was a mixed blessing however; he later claimed that he had trouble suppressing their minds within his own, distracting him enough for the heroes to win.
    • Teridax arranged for the destruction of his entire brotherhood, to ensure that no other Makuta would be left to fight against or otherwise threaten him once his plan succeeds. He sent some of his best men to Karda Nui, the "heart of the universe", to keep the Toa Nuva from re-energizing it until the timing was right. One thing he didn't tell them was that the reactivation of Karda Nui would unleash an energy storm that vaporizes anything within it. He also intended to off the Nuva and whoever else resided in Karda Nui (whom he had used as his unsuspecting pawns), but they managed to escape the storm. However, supplementary material later revealed that he had kept some Makuta alive to enslave them and make them produce Kraata slugs to power his Rahkshi.
    • In the BIONICLE (2015) reboot Makuta did this to Umarak, twice. First he used the power of the Mask of Control to transform Umarak into the feral "Destroyer" and then once the "Destroyer" form outlived its usefulness, Makuta absorbed him to use his combined powers to open a portal.

  • In Little Shop of Horrors, Audrey II has no qualms about eating Seymour after his plans get enough momentum to go on without him.
  • In Pokémon Live!, after Pikachu teaches MechaMew2 its electric moves, he and Ash are no longer useful to Giovanni, so he tries to kill them with Hyper Beam.
  • Alluded to in Wildhorn's Wonderland, in which the Mad Hatter mentions in one of her Villain Songs that she intends to dispose of her Unwitting Pawn the Queen of Hearts once she obtains full control of Wonderland.
    "Now every piece is in place, and all that's left to erase
    Before I take over all the power
    Is every trace of dear Alice
    Then the Queen..."

    Web Animation 
  • Benjamin Palmer does this to Col. Keene near the end of Broken Saints, then has it done to him in turn by Lear Dunham.
  • Dreamscape: When Melinda fiends out Pita went through a Heel–Face Turn, she vaporizes him with a beam. He ends up regenerating though.
    Melinda: Since you have given up on your life's purpose, you are of no use to me!
  • FreedomToons: In "Biden's Actual Inauguration", in the middle of Joe Biden's inaugurations speech, Kamala Harris then has Biden taken away and have herself inaugurated right then and there.
  • Hades does this in The Frollo Show to Scanty and Kneesocks in the episode "Frollo Misses His Mother". This was after Frollo, Gaston, Lefou, and Hans Frollo escape Hell by using Sonic's spring. They managed to escaped because Hans makes a surprising appearance and covers them with his sperm. They apologize to Hades, only for him to respond by kicking them into the River Styx and Rickrolling them as punishment.
  • Gaming All-Stars:
    • Polygon Man does this to Eggman, Cortex, and G-Man in The Ultimate Crossover, who only used them so they could (Unwittingly) help Andross pull the moon into the Earth’s orbit.
    • Remastered adds another layer: When Eggman arrives to meet Radec before going to the Moon, Radec pulls his gun out, shoots Eggman, and yanks his Dark Cannon. Then, he kills Razorbeard because he doesn’t want to share Polygon Man’s power with anyone else. On top of that, once Radec actually meets Polygon Man, the latter refuses to offer the former the boost of energy he anticipated, instead turning him into a mindless Polygon slave, just before heralding Andross’ arrival and planning to turn the heroes into his slaves as well.
  • Happy Tree Friends: Shifty will sometimes kill his brother, Lifty, or leave him for dead to get away with the stolen goods.
  • McBusters, a Whole-Plot Reference to Ghostbusters (1984) and Ghostbusters II using the McDonaldland characters, features The Burger King in the role of Vigo the Carpathian and creator of the documentary Super Size Me Morgan Spurlock serving as the equivalent to Janos Poha. Once he's made free of the painting imprisoning him by discrediting the McBusters, the Burger King proceeds to state that he no longer needs Spurlock and turns him into a pile of McDonald's food.
  • Murder Drones: The first episode has Uzi and N discuss how the latter's kind, vampiric robots known as disassembly drones, seem to be created with planned obsolescence in mind, as they require the oil from worker drones in order to continue functioning, meaning they'll eventually die off themselves once they've completed their task of killing the entire population. Uzi also points out that the pod that landed N and his squad on the planet seems to be one-way, though this aspect might be unintentional, as the second episode reveals that N was the one piloting and may have just made a crash landing.
  • RWBY: After the attack on Haven fails miserably, Lionheart decides to try and run. Salem has the Seer kill him, because his only usefulness was his status as Haven's headmaster. Quite brutally, from the sound of it. What really hammers it in is how casual Salem is while doing it.
  • The Wrath of Giga Bowser: As soon as Donkey Kong has brought Bowser to the villainous trio, Ganondorf brutally sends him flying away. It is unclear whether DK survives, but considering he is not seen anymore for the remainder of the video...

    Web Original 
  • Fen Quest: When Sir Gauche's sister brings the Dragoncloth to Vackles (as far as they both know, it's the real one) in order to bargain for her and her brother's lives, he has her killed as soon as he gets his hands on the package. This doesn't go unpunished, as when his Dragon is busy executing her, he can't defend him from Fen.
  • VillainSource's Lairs & Bases page advises prospective villains to do this with their construction crews once their lairs are complete, because "A Secret Lair isn't so secret with a couple of hundred ex-construction workers wandering the globe, blabbing to bar patrons about the secret shark trap you built into your underwater grotto."
  • Worm:
    • Coil attempts to kill Skitter when her morals outweigh the benefits that she offers and she has accomplished the goal of taking over the city for him that he has set out. In order to do this, he teleports her to an abandoned building and shoots her in the chest, and then, when she survives, he sets the building on fire and has his men fire at it constantly to ensure that she does not escape. When she escapes, she finds her allies, outmaneuvers Coil, shoots him in the head, and takes over his organization.
    • Later, the ostensibly heroic Irregulars pull this on their leader, Weld, once he has led them to victory over Cauldron.

    Web Videos 
  • In the Grand Finale of Belkinus Necrohunt, after the Came Back Wrong Bloodstride she summoned for protection falls in battle, Chandrelle insults how much he schemed when he lived before siphoning his remaining power to go One-Winged Angel.
  • Implied at the end of "Normal Porn for Normal People". The last video featured in the story involves one of the actresses for the titular site being Bound and Gagged before the people running the site open the door for a shaved, rabid chimpanzee, which proceeds to maul the poor woman to death. The title of the video in question? "Useless.avi".
  • Clarota tries to pull this in Critical Role, turning on the party after they help him achieve his goals. Percy doesn't let him get away with it.
  • In Achievement Hunter's Let's Play Grand Theft Auto V "Heist" episodes, this has been done three times:
    • The first two times times were by Ryan, who kills Geoff in the first Heist [(Geoff's) Heist] and tries to kill Ray in the third (Ryan's Heist). However, he forgot to get his share of the money from Geoff, denying him an actual victory and Ray kills him before he could kill Ray.
    • The third time was by Michael, who initiates a plan so that he can kill off Ryan, Ray, Geoff and Kerry and split the money between himself, Gavin and Lindsay.
  • Douglas Hyland and Julian Hunter in Splinter Cell: Extinction. The latter gets better.
  • Played with in Stupid Mario Brothers. After Shadow Mario fulfilled his usefulness to Mr. L, he died, but not at the hands of Mr. L...

    Real Life 
  • This is one of the many traits of a sociopath, as they (as noted above) simply view people as tools to be discarded if they prove to be no longer useful to them. Even friends (including childhood and best friends) aren't safe from being disposed of.
  • As mentioned in Animal Farm, it can be a case of Truth in Television if farm animals are killed after they are no longer able to perform their intended function, perhaps to reduce costs on the industry to feed and shelter useless livestock.
    • Most infamously, the idea of old and ailing horses being sent to the glue factory.
    • Hens that are too old to lay eggs (or just too old to lay eggs quickly enough) suffer such a fate, and are often slaughtered and added to processed meat products or as fertilizer or animal feed. They at least have it off easier than male chicks, who are ground up alive en masse at only one day old as they will never lay eggs and are of no use to the egg industry.note 
    • A similar fate befalls male dairy calves: as they will not produce milk, they are sometimes slaughtered for veal at as young as two weeks of age. The use of this trope toward farm animals is one thing many philosophical and ethical vegans cite as a motivation for their practices.
  • According to apocrypha, this was at the center of the supposed Pixar/Disney feud back in 2005, with Disney getting upset by the "upstart" Pixar, which in turn was tired of being the sidekick to Disney when in fact their movies were making Disney billions.
  • Activision falls into this trope in an excellent way. Remember Call of Duty, the game that was developed by Infinity Ward, the very same company that gave Activision billions of dollars? Well, Activision fired two key figures of Infinity Ward and has said that the developer will not make more games of that franchise; instead, Treyarch and a new developer would take care of the franchise. However, this was partially subverted after several civil suit with Infinity Ward staying open to make Modern Warfare 3 though most of its original staff resigned to protest Activision's decision.
    • Activision is notorious for this. For another example, they had acquired Red Octane entirely for the Guitar Hero franchise, then promptly had Neversoft and a couple other teams pump out as many titles as possible, which, by the end of 2010, had been 13 games in less than five years. At this point, the franchise had made Activision a few billion dollars. The moment sales started slipping, partly due to Activision's self-induced market oversaturation, Red Octane was dissolved and, as of February 2011, the franchise was dead until the announcement of Guitar Hero Live.
  • An unfortunate reality in the AAA Video Games industry. Many workers (programmers, graphic designers, 3D modelers, animators, etc.) are hired to work on large projects with astronomical budgets, only to be fired once said project is complete. Many companies don't even go that far, and just fire their workers before they're legally required to provide any benefits (such as Health Insurance).
  • After the October Revolution and Civil War in Russia was over, many of its ideologists were purged because Josef Stalin claimed that as vehement revolutionaries they knew nothing except staging rebellions and rooting out inner enemies. Stalin then proceeded to root out "inner enemies" (such as the Jews, here called "rootless cosmopolitans") until 1953, long after every single member of the original Bolshevik party had been executed or exiled. He was gearing up for another round of this trope when he had a stroke, and (possibly apocryphally) did not receive care as his guards feared punishment for interrupting him, or (as some have theorized) he was poisoned by one of his own inner circle, who all feared for their lives.
    • Subverted if recent proposals are correct in their assumptions that the death of Stalin was instigated on the direct order of Winston Churchill.
  • Companies that practice vitality curve or "stack ranking" methods rate the performance of each employee against each other and fire the lowest performers. Or in other words, every year the 10% of the workforce which have outlived their usefulness are sacked. The usefulness of the policy has been long debated in HR circles, with many arguing, among other things, that this system encourages employees to spend more time on interoffice politics than actually working.
  • An especially heartbreaking form of this trope comes into play with animals used in the entertainment industry, particularly primates such as chimpanzees and orangutans, as well as big cats like tigers; once the animals have grown too strong and powerful to control, their trainers unceremoniously dump them at poorly-run, filthy roadside zoos, which masquerade as "sanctuaries".
  • The end of the Cold War caused a great deal of this among the Third World. Now that they weren't needed as anti-Communist bulwarks, dictators like Saddam Hussein and Manuel Noriega were cut off by the CIA, hung out to dry by the State Department, and invaded by the US Army. This trope also happened to genuinely good guys like Ahmed Shah Massoud, an anti-Taliban mujahadeen whose calls for assistance in Afghanistan and his claims of radical Islam fermenting there were mostly ignored during the 1990s.
  • The history of international politics is, in some ways, one example of this trope after another. After almost any major war in which the winning side consisted of an alliance of at least roughly equally powerful states, the alliance breaks up, with the erstwhile allies turning on one another. This happens for two primary reasons: the common enemy that had driven them together in the first place is now gone, and there are now spoils of victory to divide. In short, for each member of the victorious alliance, at least one former ally has outlived its usefulness; of course, since states are often highly resilient, these cases are not necessarily fatal for the states involved (although they can certainly be fatal for many individuals).
  • The Comics Code Authority ran into this full stop, and it was never really useful to begin with. Basically its role was censoring comics so they wouldn't damage the minds of impressionable young children, but it was created due to the efforts of a man clinging to a false premise based on observations of a subject group that was far too narrow for the scope of what he claimed, and pretty much made up evidence if he couldn't obtain it through the scientific method (which he never tried to apply anyway). Bottom line, all the Comics Code really did was stifle creativity, force comics to be highly formulaic, and prevent any effort to address real social, political, or cultural issues. Comic publishing companies chafed under this until the 1990's, then basically started pushing the envelope as much as they wanted. Eventually all the comic publishers stopped adhering to it, and just published comics without the Code before abandoning it altogether. The CCA become defunct in 2011.
    • It's been suggested by several critics that the Think of the Children! impetus was only ever a smoke-screen for the Code's real purpose: to drive horror/crime giant EC Comics straight into the ground. See, after World War II, superhero publishers were pretty much hemorrhaging readers every year, while EC was gobbling up the market with far more action-packed (and usually more creative) comics. Solution? Launch a nationwide moral panic that superhero titles could weather (sometimes even flourish in) better than horror/crime stuff ever could..
  • In the insect and arachnid world, this often happens after mating.
    • The frequency of females eating males is arguably exaggerated, but in plenty of male invertebrates (including various octopus species), mating triggers the animal's programmed death. In the females' case, the trigger for death is often laying eggs, which becomes a plot point in Charlotte's Web.
    • Taken to an extreme with the male anglerfish, who latches onto his mate and gradually degenerates into a mere sperm-producing appendage.
  • Those Wacky Nazis were very fond of doing this:
    • A bleak example from the Holocaust was the Sonderkommando, inmates in Auschwitz who were given good food, cigarettes and lodging by camp standards in exchange for doing the gruesome work of cleaning up and burning all the bodies produced by the gas chambers. While useful, they were also dangerous, as they knew in intricate detail what was going on and how it was being carried out. As a result, Sonderkommandos were regularly gassed and replaced, with the first duty of the replacements being to collect and burn the bodies of their predecessors.
    • The Nazis also installed a "Jewish Police" in the various Judenviertel (ghetto) who were used to maintain order among the captive population and later to round them up for deportation and eventual murder. They had certain privileges above the ordinary Jew, foremost an extended lifespan. Of course, once the ghettos were emptied of all other inhabitants, most of the police were disposed of as well (a small handful were moved into concentration camps designated for essential workers).
    • The SA. The Sturmabteilung was vital to the NSDAP's (and Hitler's) rise to power, however, only two years later, the SA was forcibly disbanded during the Night of The Long Knives (aka Operation Hummingbird, aka Röhm Putsch). Most of its high-ranking officers were killed either right then and there or soon after.
      • Very narrowly averted in the case of Franz von Papen; even after securing Hitler chancellorship, something Hindenburg would have been very unlikely to grant without Papen's intervention, Hitler strongly considered having him killed on the Night of the Long Knives. Ultimately, he decided against it.
      • Speaking of the SA, the Nazis essentially did this to the gay community. Early on, the party quietly promised to create a world where homosexuality would be accepted. This got them a lot of support from the gay community, in the form of recruits (most of the SA) and money. When the Nazi party grew big enough where the more mainstream homophobic crowd was promising them greater money and even more men, the party simply switched its policy to create a world where homosexuality would be eliminated instead. This was a convenient excuse to purge the SA; they found plenty of homosexuals to round up by simply going down the party's membership records. Of particular note is that a year prior to their disbandment, the SA raided and destroyed the research of the Institute of Sex Research, which was dedicated to scientifically researching homosexuality and transgender identities as a way of humanizing them to the public. This adds a tinge of Hitler rewarding gay subordinates for betraying their kind.
      • Generally, as the Nazis grew stronger politically, their ideal of a pure Aryan grew ever narrower. This meant that a lot of the party's initial supporters woke up one day to find that they were now on the wrong end of their party's wrath.
    • Nazi Germany did this to a lot of countries during World War II, including Vichy France after the Allies landed in French North Africa (nominal Vichyite territory), Italy after the Allies landed in Sicily, and Hungary after they tried to defect. The bungled attempt to do this to the Soviet Union (after much initial cooperation, including the joint invasion of Poland and the Soviets providing Germany with resources to fight against France and Britain) sowed much of the seeds of the Nazis' downfall.
    • The Nazi eugenic plan Action T4 was a program of forced euthanasia under which physicians were directed to judge patients "incurably sick, by critical medical examination," and then administer to these patients a "mercy death". As many as 300,000 were killed under this program.
  • Sometimes enforced by the Hollywood studios, either when they feel like a star is fading or just for the hell of it. This happened to Kim Basinger after she backed out of Boxing Helena; she was hit with a lawsuit that left her bankrupt and destroyed her reputation to the point where no studios were willing to give her leading roles anymore. Whoopi Goldberg saw this happen and decided that she'd rather develop a reputation as someone who'd do anything for money rather than someone who broke contract agreements, resulting in Theodore Rex and the eventual end of her run as a box office draw.
  • There's a legend concerning Napoleon's invasion of Russia. When he finally entered Moscow, he allegedly saw a gigantic golden cross on one of the Kremlin's towers, and wanted it as a trophy. His soldiers could not reach it, but a Russian, a former bellringer, agreed to help. When he finally leveled the cross down, Napoleon ordered the bellringer to be shot... for treason against Russia.
  • This happens a lot in Chinese history, especially with the founders of new dynasties, who weaken, or often outright kill, their powerful generals and supporters once their enemies are defeated. There's no point in keeping Four Star Badasses around when the only side they can possibly put their skills to use against is yours.
  • This is usually averted with secret agents; any people they can coerce into helping them are better alive than dead, especially if they can provide further services in the future. Though that said, the existence of the phrase "terminate with extreme prejudice"note  indicates that it's at the very least sometimes considered.
  • When France surrendered in World War II, the British Navy attacked and destroyed their fleet at Mers El-Kebir in order to prevent it being used against the UK, killing 1,297 French sailors.
    • Thanks to geography, the UK has done this a lot. The Royal Navy attacked Copenhagen twice without warning in the Napoleonic period (1801 & 1807) to keep the then-neutral Danish Navy out of Napoleon's hands. This, unsurprisingly, pushed Denmark-Norway into joining the war on Napoleon's side and they scrambled to rebuild as many ships as they could manage.
  • A few months after World War II ended in Europe, Winston Churchill was voted out of office. While he had been a popular and heroic wartime leader, voters were skeptical about his ability to govern in peacetime and much preferred the plans offered by the Labour Party.
    • Often overlooked is that, with one exception (shortly after V-E Day and from a pollster who did no other work), polls consistently showed the Conservatives getting their butts kicked in the next election.
  • A lot of websites that rely on user contributions to run, particularly some of the more stuffy wikis, have this attitude about their users. As soon as a user ticks off a moderator, makes a poor contribution, or in any way becomes a liability, they label that user as a Troll and lay down a ban regardless of the positive contributions that user has made. Having particularly trigger-happy moderators can irreparably damage a user-base by doing this, as evading a ban is notoriously easy these days and there's absolutely zero incentive to actually try and be a better user when you can get banned at the drop of a hat for any minor sleight: why bother trying to be good when it's easier to do what you want and dodge punishments?
    • On the flip sides, some sites might reach their popularity on the back of a strict userbase with niche and rather non-advertiser-friendly interest. For short-term profit (common in investment funds) closing down the niche community to attract advertisers and force the loosening of the rules for short userbase spike (which left once they realize there's nothing to do) have better yield than trying to wait and see.
  • Kim Jong Un's pulled this on his own uncle, Jang Song Thaek. Jang was the number 2 power in the entire country and helped Kim consolidate power after the death of his father. As soon as that was done, he was hit with countless charges that may or may not even be true, hauled off and executed, and even retroactively removed from all photos.
  • It is assumed USSR executed Raoul Wallenberg for this exact reason. GPU captured Wallenberg in Budapest, in order to blackmail Sweden on him after the war. He was intended to be exchanged for Soviet refugees in Sweden. As Sweden refused to co-operate, Wallenberg was executed.
  • This is how the Samurai ceased to exist. Many Samurai fought for the Imperial side in the Boshin War to bring down the Shogunate, seeing the Shogunate that bowed down to demands of western powers as weak. However, the new government started reducing privileges of the samurai, such as their exclusive right to carry swords, not needing to work by living on stipends and the right to legally kill commoners for disrespecting them (known as kirisutegomen). Particularly controversial was western-style universal male conscription and elementary schools, as samurai used to have a monopoly on warfare and felt that education should be a privilege of the upper classes. This ultimately led to the Satsuma Rebellion, in which an army of conscripted commoners decisively defeated the Samurai, proving that a class of warriors was no longer needed.
  • Since patriarchal societies have historically viewed women as only useful to their husbands and households, some upper-caste Hindu communities in India developed a tradition called sati, which called for a widow to immolate herself on her husband's funeral pyre. (The good news is that it's been banned since the time of The Raj, and even when it was still in practice, it didn't exceed several hundred victims per year out of a population of millions.) Meanwhile in Europe and the colonial Americas, anxiety toward women who no longer had husbands to serve is also probably why widows were disproportionately likely to be executed for witchcraft.
  • This has become true in the world of boxing in the 21st century. While fighters before then were allowed to lose and gain experience before building themselves up to become popular attractions, nowadays a fighter must have a reputation of being an undefeated prospect, especially when it comes to big fights. If a fighter loses, their sponsors might abandon them, and their coach might drop them. There have been many unbeaten prospects who lost and were never heard from again, unless they become blue collar gatekeepers, used to challenge the next unbeaten prospect. The only way this gets prevented is if a fighter wins enough big fights before losing, hopefully securing a large enough following.
  • Silk production. Silkworms have to be cared for and fed to keep them alive through their larva period, but once they've spun the fibers for their cocoon, they're simply boiled and discarded. (Some cuisines — the Vietnamese and Thai, for example — cook them, for a nutritious and tasty source of protein.)
  • A fairly common practice for a company going through a round of layoffs is to assign one person the emotionally exhausting task of informing everyone who had lost their jobs, and then lay them off once they're done.
  • Most businesses will move to remove an underperforming employee sooner rather than later, rather than having them drag down the rest of the company with them, even if they've done good work in the past.
  • This is, unfortunately, basically how nature and evolution "see" individuals: once an adult has reproduced and given their offspring the care they need to survive on their own, the parents are pretty much expendable, which is why we didn't evolve any resistance to most diseases that tend to occur late in life, or evolve resistance to aging in the first place. This is less true in species subject to kin selection, like homo sapiens, which is why post-menopausal women don't die off promptly - their continued existence advances the interests of younger kin who share some of their genes, propagating those genes.
  • Sports. After enough underperforming seasons, something has to give. Whether that's a player or a coach. Very well-known as Black Monday in the NFL.
  • This is arguably the basis of democracy. When a leader is considered incompetent or no longer capable of governing effectively, the public might vote them out of office. Their fates may still be better than most examples on this page, as they can still lead comfortable lives after leaving politics. They may receive pensions, leverage the connections they made in office to find work in other fields (going into business, academia, etc.) and be entitled to receive other benefits (e.g. former U.S. Presidents getting Secret Service protection for the rest of their lives).
  • The Modernisation Plan of 1955 saw British Railways do this to their fleet of steam locomotives during the 1960s. Whilst the majority had been in operation for 30-40 years (the end of steam on the North Eastern Region in September 1967 saw the withdrawal of several locomotives built before the 1923 grouping), a substantial number, notably the BR-designed "Standard" types, ended up having a ridiculously short working life, with some not even having ten years of life before withdrawal. (The shortest working life was the six years of 92220 Evening Star, but, being the last steam locomotive built by BR, it was marked for preservation from the moment it was built.)
  • In a non-living example, the "pets vs. cattle" metaphor in IT. On-premises servers are "pets" in that they require care and feeding and administrators will make configuration changes to nurse them back to health, similar to a pet receiving veterinary care. Cloud servers are "cattle" that are deleted (euthanized) in case of failure and restored.
  • The Knights Templar fell victim to this trope after they were no longer needed to support crusades, in addition to King Philip IV of France looking for an excuse to rid himself of his enormous debt to them.

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After Mr. Negative is defeated by Spider-Man, Doctor Octopus arrives to take matters into his own hands, but not before approaching the former and declaring him "useless" as he swats him away.

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Main / YouHaveOutlivedYourUsefulness

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