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You Have Outlived Your Usefulness

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The bad guy's take on the classic "You're fired!"
"A puppet that can no longer be used is mere garbage. This puppet's role has just ended..."
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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 "You have outlived your usefulness" or "you have served your purpose" 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 loyal to the money more than 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.

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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.

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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.

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 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.

WARNING: As this is somewhat of a Death Trope (in many cases, at least), there are spoilers, so read at your own risk!


Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • In A Certain Magical Index, the organization GREMLIN tends to do this to its low level members. GREMLIN considers anybody who isn't privy to the organization's true objectives to be expendable.
  • In the anime adaptation of Ai no Kusabi, this overlaps with Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves. Iason has successfully used former Bison gang member Kirie to sell out and destroy the gang in a Batman Gambit. When Kirie shows up to collect his reward money, he's instead taken by an android posing as Iason. He's not killed, but his mind is altered and he's turned into an unthinking and obedient Pet.
  • In Attack on Titan, this is the ultimate fate of all Warriors. When their Tenure is close to ending and their powers begin to wane, a successor is selected to eat them in order to inherit their powers. Should a Warrior act out or make mistakes, their superiors will consider whether to end their Tenure early. It's revealed that Reiner Braun narrowly avoided this fate after failing his mission. It took 4 years of exceptional military service on the front lines to get his superiors to allow him to finish his Tenure.
  • This is common with Szilard from Baccano!, who considers anybody to be disposable, including homunculi created from his own cells, to misfit gangsters given an incomplete immortality serum JUST to ensure they are easy to dispose of — if you think that's a contradiction, you need to watch the show.
    • Huey also views the Lemeurs, including his own doting daughter, as this.
  • Emperor Barodius, the third Big Bad from Bakugan, was a big fan of this as well as You Have Failed Me. If he didn't kill you, he'd brainwash you instead.
    • Mag Mel, the Big Bad after Barodius, outright told his Co-Dragons when he created them that the moment they were no longer of use to him, their lives would end. When Mistress Sellon actually does outlive her usefulness, he promptly kills her in an absolutely chilling way as she's pleading for him to spare her, then eats her energy to fuel himself. He then does the exact same thing to Anubias in the next episode.
  • Bleach:
    • The first main antagonist, Sosuke Aizen, does this to three characters (Momo Hinamori, Rukia Kuchiki, and Tier Harribel) at different times. And yet all of them survived.
    • Likewise, the Big Bad of the Bount filler arc loved doing this, to the point where "you were just pawns" almost seems like his Catch-Phrase.
    • Furthermore, the Big Bad of the Thousand Year Blood War arc, Yhwach, kills Luders Friegen after the latter finished his task.
      • One of the Sternritters, Robert Accutrone, panics on realizing their boss has left them behind. That means they're no longer useful to him and are nothing more than fodder for his Auswählen, his energy absorption ability, which subsequently kills said subordinate and several others. Out of the targeted Ritters, only three (Liltotto, Giselle and Bazz-B) managed to dodge it and survive.
      • In the climax of the arc, Yhwach suddenly decides he doesn't need any of his subordinates and performs another Auswählen to wipe them all out.
  • Alphard from Canaan simply decides to discard Liang Qi by deliberately leaving her behind in a building that is about to be bombed. Liang Qi survives the betrayal, but boy howdy does she ever lose it.
  • In Claymore, Priscilla tells Raki that he has outlived his usefulness to her and that she is hungry after seven years of not eating... and saves his life from the Destroyer's rods.
    • In general this is also the Organization's attitude toward Claymores who have become too old, troublesome or know too many things.
  • Code Geass has its Anti-Hero protagonist do this with mind-controlled enemies. Somewhat justified by pragmatism. One of the occasions he doesn't really comes back to bite him in the ass on more than a few occasions.
    • Then, as a subversion, his "allies" do it to HIM. They get away with it too, sort of.
    • At the beginning of R2 Lelouch is stripped of his memories by Charles and used in a plan to lure out C.C., so when the Britannian soldiers find C.C., they plan to kill Lelouch since he's fulfilled his purpose. Invoked early on by Charles when he declares Lelouch and Nunnally weak and has them sent as bargaining chips to Japan, which is subsequently invaded with them still there. Lelouch survives, but now he's really pissed. He did this not to use them, but to hide them from his murderous and deceitful immortal brother.
  • In Cross Ange, Embryo does this a lot. When his men are typically following him, he leaves them and intends the destruction of everyone including them. He even does this to Jill and kills her despite her being his old girlfriend. He even leaves the Diamond Royal Knights on his own so he can try and marry Ange, causing them all to have a Sanity Slippage.
  • In Death Note, this is is the fate of almost everyone used by Light Yagami, even if they are close to him, so that he can safely cover his tracks after they had served their purpose. Also the fate of many pawns that served under The Mafia group of Mello, especially when they were trying to get the titular Artifact of Doom. Surprisingly, the last use of the trope in the story wasn't done by either of those two, but by Ryuk on Light himself because Light had been permanently stopped from killing and thus no longer held his interest — reminding us that, despite his personality as a lovable goof, Ryuk is still a Shinigami to the core.
  • Digimon V-Tamer 01: Etemonkey, an Etemon, was Daemon's second in command, and a huge pain in the ass for Taichi and Zero. And then, within eight pages of Neo Saiba's debut, he Jogresses Devimon and Ogremon and kills him.
    • Digimon Adventure: Upon his rebirth, VenomMyotismon promptly devours Demidevimon, his sole remaining loyal minion. He also does this quite famously to Arukenimon in Digimon Adventure 02.
    • This trope is actually pretty common for Digimon villains.
    • Digimon Tamers features a non-villainous example: Renamon strings along the Deva Vajramon (who has an... interest in her) in order to get information regarding his master. Once she has the information, she basically tells him to get lost (and ends up destroying him after digivolving into Taomon).
  • In .hack//SIGN: Morganna attacks Tsukasa after Tsukasa brings Subaru to the hidden area where Aura was held. This too used an alternate phrase, "I don't need you anymore."
  • Dragon Ball Z uses this quite often, mainly with Babidi, Frieza, and Vegeta.
    • Vegeta even kills his longtime partner Nappa because of this (Goku had paralyzed him), combining this with You Have Failed Me for getting his ass kicked by Goku in the first place.
    • Invoked verbatim by Perfect Cell in the English dub of Kai, spoken about his Cell Games ring, of all things.
    • Demon King Piccolo back in Dragon Ball, in regards to Pilaf, Mai, and Shu after they set him free and helped him gather the Dragon Balls to restore his youth. He unceremoniously threw the hapless trio out of their airship.
    • Babidi's Establishing Character Moment is having Spopopvich and Yamu executed on the spot as soon as they give him Gohan's siphoned Ki. The Supreme Kai even states outright that Babidi always has his minions killed when he doesn't need them anymore. Amusingly enough when Babidi finds out they brought him far more energy than he thought they did he thinks he didn't give them enough credit and maybe he should have kept them around after all, though he just shrugs and thinks it's still no big deal.
    • In Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’, Freeza kills all 1000 of his own Mooks with a single attack after they're defeated by the Z-Fighters. Dragon Ball Super changed this by instead having them get caught in the energy released when Freeza assumes his true form, but considering who we're talking about he'd probably label it a happy accident.
  • Brain from Fairy Tail pulled this on Cobra after the later's failure to defeat Natsu. This was bad for two reasons: One, Cobra was just about to kill a barely conscious Natsu, who would go on to defeat Brain or rather, his Superpowered Evil Side, Zero, and two, Cobra survived and after the Time Skip, would pay Brain back full-force in front of the other members of their group after they were released (through Cobra's own actions at that) from prison, with not a single one caring. Probably should have thought that one through better.
  • The homunculi from Fullmetal Alchemist are prolific perpetrators of this trope. Greed being the exception.
    • In one of the translations, Lust actually says this line to-a-T to Cornello in the first volume of the manga... Right before she impales his head with her ultimate spear. (See page image.) In the 2003 version, Gluttony eats Cornello instead, but the idea is the same.
    • In the 2003 anime, Dante does this to anyone who she surfs into. Lyra learned this the hard way.
    • An example of the "more useful dead" variation: the gold-toothed alchemist was in charge of readying the five sacrifices needed for the Promised Day. When he fails to get Mustang to perform human transmutation and as such become the fifth and final sacrifice, Wrath and Pride swoop in, mortally wound the doc, and use him as the raw material in a transmutation that they force upon Mustang.
    • Father tries this on Hohenheim, Roy, Izumi, and the Elric brothers after they have fulfilled their role as his "sacrifices". Luckily, Hohenheim is able to protect them all with the power of his philosopher's stone.
    • The sheer extent that the Homunculi do this really can’t be overstated: They regularly have scientists develop new methods of producing Philosophers Stones, then murder them all and use them as the ingredients for said new stones. They slaughter all of Greed’s henchmen when they side with Greed after he splits from them. Greed himself is destroyed and recreated without his memories for refusing to work for them. Kimblee is absorbed by Pride when the latter decides he’s only remaining use is as a power booster. Barry the Chopper does a Heel–Face Turn expressly because he understands that they’re going to murder him once he’s not useful anymore. Most notably, the military high command has been promised that when Father activates the nationwide transmutation circle for the mass human sacrifice, they’ll be in the safe zone and become gods with him; when the time actually comes, Father doesn’t even bother trying to inform them and simply begins the ritual, having always intended for them to die with everybody else.
  • Nakago of Fushigi Yuugi does this to one of his fellow Seiryuu warriors after he receives the MacGuffin he was ordered to steal (although this is partly because the man's "human form" was killed, making him little more than a smart wolf).
  • In chapter 81 of Gunslinger Girl, Giacomo Dante has been captured and the Turin facility secured, then tanks roll in, PFC Aprea is arrested and the SWA is being told to surrender to the military. Turns out, the Prime Minister now seeks to pin the whole incident on the SWA and get them labelled an anti-government organization.
  • Hakuron from Haou Airen does this several times. It's very, very bitterly lampshaded by Reilan right before he shoots her dead for setting up his current girlfriend Kurumi to be gangraped.
    Reilan: "Kurumi! Take a good look at him! This is the fate destined to those who aren't useful to Hakuron anymore!"
  • Genkishi from Katekyō Hitman Reborn! had this happen to him seemingly just to show that people can actually die.
    • And Xanxus kept apparently doing this to all of his underlings whenever they lost matches with Tsuna' guardians, laughing about how they're trash... only for it to be revealed that not a single one of them actually did die.
  • Subverted in Macross Frontier. Various baddies attempt to do so a couple of times, but it always fails.
  • In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Strikers, Due, after killing Regius tells Zest that his "usefulness and (his) revenge are at an end". In an inversion of the typical result of this trope, Zest kills her.
  • In Mahou Sensei Negima!, despite having successfully held off the Ala Rubra till the ceremony to bring about The End of the World as We Know It was over, the Big Bad in a sneak attack shot both Nagi and Primum through the chest with a high piercing Death Ray. This wasn't due to Primum being a casualty in the way, because of the way the two were facing: Nagi's back turned to the direction of the on-coming attack. By the way that Nagi had Neck Lifted Primum, he likely watched the Black Cloaked villain as the beam was fired, smiling as it did.
    • And then he did the exact same thing with Fate and Negi, after Fate had decided to stop fighting Negi.
  • In Mai-HiME, the Obsidian Lord is planning to do this with his First District followers, including the Omniscient Council of Vagueness, but Shizuru, going on a rampage fueled by her feelings for Natsuki, beats him to it.
  • Mazinger Z: In episode 31, three workers of the Photon Atomic Research Institute were kidnapped by The Dragon and hypnotized in piloting the latest batch of Mechanical Beasts Big Bad Dr. Hell had built (Megaron P1, P2 and P3). However one of the weapons of Megaron generated such a heat blast would surely kill whoever was sitting in the cockpit. Hell and Ashura knew the three men surely would die during the battle, but as long as they died after they would have fulfilled their purpose, they did not care.
  • In Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, General Septem is tricked by Lady Une on behalf of OZ to give a live speech (aboard a plane fleeing the attack of the New Edwards Base) condemning peace with the space colonies and reaffirming Earth's resolve to the war. After ending the broadcast, Lady Une calmly and politely informs the General that his "services were no longer required," immediately before opening a hatch under his seat. Then shooting him in the head on his way down.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam 00's Ribbons Almark does this quite a bit.
  • This is standard procedure for Johan in Monster. Anyone who's come into contact with him for whatever reason tend to die shortly after their role has been played.
  • In Naruto, Orochimaru does this to two members of the Sound Genin team, using them as a living sacrifice required for the Edo Tensei technique. The third (and smartest) realized that Orochimaru saw them as Unwitting Pawns before this and decided he would try and throw a wrench into his plans as payback...but picked the wrong way to do it and got killed, with Kabuto commenting that he had outlived his usefulness long ago just like the others.
    • This trope comes back to haunt Orochimaru himself later as Sasuke absorbs him after having learned everything that he could.
    • Sasuke also does this later with Karin when Danzo uses her as a human shield.
    • Before the start of the Fourth Ninja World War, Tobi does this to Konan, in order to grab Nagato's Rinnegan.
    • During the Jubi revival arc, Madara has Black Zetsu take control of Obito's body in order to fully revive Madara. Obito escapes the first attempt but not the second.
      • Madara himself ends up becoming victim to this when Black Zetsu literally backstabs him and reveals that he's actually working for Kaguya Otsutuski.
    • At the very start of the story, Mizuki manipulates Naruto into stealing the scroll of forbidden jutsu, then plans on disposing of Naruto once he's done. Thankfully, Naruto defeats Mizuki using the technique he learned.
  • The Ninja Gaiden OVA has the Man Behind the Man say this almost word for word when offing the scientist that he blackmailed into recreating the Evil Gods.
  • Although no special line is used, this is the reason Captain Kuro tries to kill his entire crew in One Piece: he no longer needs them, and can't allow anyone who knows his true identity to live.
    • This also happened to Nico Robin when she was Miss All-Sunday, The Dragon for Baroque Works. Might be subverted, since she never intended to give her boss, Crocodile, the information he wanted anyway.
      • Not that Crocodile is a stranger to this trope himself. You're dead to him if you fail once, and if you're lucky you might get a second chance, but there's no way in hell a third's coming. Only Mr 1 Daz Bonez is exempt from this, mostly because he's the only subordinate Crocodile actually likes.
    • The World Government does this to Gecko Moriah, one of the Seven Warlords of the Sea (seven powerful pirates that work for the government) after the Marineford War, due to both his bad performance in said war and his previous defeat at the hands of Luffy, deeming him too weak to be effective as a Warlord. He does manage to escape, however.
    • In the Dressrossa Arc, in the B Block matches of the tournament, the contestants from Prodence form an alliance with the others, then when their allies grow weak, start picking them off so that their king will be the one who advances onward. Unfortunately, for them, one of them, Blue Gilly, realizes what they're up to, and defeats Dagama when Dagama tries to literally and figuratively stab Blue Gilly in the back, saying "I can't fathom who would be stupid enough to trust a slimy toad like you in the first place!!!"
  • Pretty Cure: Bel from DokiDoki! PreCure pulls this on Leva and Gula in episode 31 when they got weakened from their battle against Precure that he absorbs their dark energy, killing them off.
  • In Pokémon Special, Archie rewards his very loyal and very competent henchman, who successfully managed to steal the Blue Orb for him and is now inside a submarine, asking for a hand up, by sending the sub off after removing the device that equalized the pressure inside, effectively leaving the poor guy for dead. Apparently it would have been too much of an effort to pull him up. The henchman barely manages to make it to the surface but sadly, he goes in denial, refusing to believe that his boss abandoned him, and fights on to make sure no one stops Kyogre.
    • In the anime, we have Paul. When a Pokemon of his doesn't perform up to his expectations, it is released back into the wild.
      • Cyrus is just as big an example, ignoring his loyal Admins to go into the world he intended to create.
      • Not as extreme an example, but in Pokémon: The First Movie, Mewtwo has put the local Nurse Joy under mind control to act as a sort of greeter to the people he has lured onto New Island, and upon revealing himself and sending one of the guests who tried to attack him flying through the room, he tells Nurse Joy her usefulness has ended and lifts her from the mind control to face her fate with the rest of the humans. Granted, Mewtwo was more of an Affably Evil Pokemon than a Bad Boss, but this is still an example.
      • In a two-part episode, Team Rocket helps an Evil Chancellor depose a rightful king and take over the Kingdom. When the TRio try to collect their reward from him, he tells them that he no longer needs them and blasts them away. They respond by pulling a brief Heel–Face Turn and secretly helping Ash and his friends restore the king.
  • Sailor Moon
    • In the episode 13 of the original series, Queen Beryl gives Jadeite one last chance to defeat the guardians. After losing again, he attempts to reveal their identities only for Beryl to freeze him solid in a giant crystal.
    • Mistress 9 does this to Kaolinite in the third season, which also happens to be the only season in which the "You Have Failed Me" trope is not used. Considering how nasty Kaolinite had been to Mistress 9's host body, Hotaru, this was also motivated by revenge.
  • Zako Red in SD Gundam Force gets deactivated by Commander Sazabi as soon as he's finished helping the invasion of Neotopia commence. This is particularly stupid because, aside from Zako Red, Sazabi was more or less Surrounded by Idiots.
    • However, the show implies rather strongly that Zako Red is simply a drone operated by Sazabi to allow him to carry out his plans without revealing himself.
    • And it turns out the Zakos and their bumbling commanders are only a small iteration of the Dark Axis anyway, as shown by the Doga Commandos and the villains that appear in the second half of the series.
    • Later on, once the General, leader of the Dark Axis, developes the power to absorb gundams through a combination tractor beam/dimensional portal, Sazabi's superior Professor Gerbera decides there's no point in maintaining the alliance he had with Kibaomaru's forces.
  • In Sengoku Otome, Ieyasu acquires the Crimson Armor and goes mad with power. She declares she doesn't need her minions anymore and blasts them out of the building. Despite this, they remain loyal to her, and return to her service when she is defeated and the armor is destroyed.
  • In Shakugan no Shana, Sorath steals Shana's Nietono no Shana, which he had always coveted, and callously throws away his Blutsauger, saying it is worthless to him now. This bites him in the ass when Shana picks up Blutsauger and continues the fight.
  • In the first season of Slayers, Eris created a copy of Rezo after the real one died. She blames the original's death on Lina and her friends and tries to kill them by unlocking "Rezo's Legacy". Eris released the power of Zanifar, which is absorbed into Copy Rezo. No sooner after this, Copy Rezo kills Eris because she no longer serves a purpose for him.
  • In Str.A.In.: Strategic Armored Infantry, when Ralph finds the other Emily aboard the Libertad and knows that the traitor is about to move against him, he throws a coup and kills the rest of Medlock's crew, only keeping her around until she too "serves her purpose".
  • In Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale, Eiji joins up with Shigemura in the hopes of restoring the consciousness of the deceased Yuna, by stealing the memories of the SAO survivors (a process that might kill them all). After he gets beaten by Kirito, he tries to remind his employer that he promised to reunite him with Yuna, but Shigemura then says that, since Eiji spent the most time with Yuna, his memories are the most important ones and they'll be taken as well, much to his shock.
  • Subverted in the final arc of The Twelve Kingdoms anime. Kouya has been manipulating Enki with a baby boy held in the mouth of his pet youma Rokuta, using the baby's life as ransom to take advantage of Enki's compassionate nature as a kirin. Once Enki agrees to remain a hostage, he reminds Kouya that he doesn't need the baby as leverage anymore. Rather than let Rokuta devour the child — which would be far more expected in context — Kouya releases the poor baby and tells a servant to make sure he is returned to his parents.
  • Orikakan gets this from Niwe in Utawarerumono in the form of an arrow through the neck.
  • In Mobile Suit Victory Gundam, Ax-Crazy Fuala gets a pilot to help her in a plan against Uso's Gundam. After the plan succeeds, she shoots the pilot in the face. Ironically, the pilot was named Kill.
  • Windaria The Big Bad quotes the trope name when speaking about Alan.
  • Fuuma does this to Kusanagi in the X1999 movie after the latter gets his arm dismembered by the protagonists. The result is a Rain of Blood. The manga and anime versions of Fuuma do similar things.
  • The Ys II OVA has Darm off Dares in accordance with this trope. Even though Dares was actually winning.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!:
    • In the original Yu-Gi-Oh! manga, Bandit Keith does this with Zygor, Sid, and Bonz when Bonz loses in a duel.
    • And in Yu-Gi-Oh! The Movie: Pyramid of Light, after Seto Kaiba has done enough damage to Yami Yugi and afterwards attempts and fails to destroy his Pyramid of Light card with his Blue-Eyes Shining Dragon, Anubis appears and ambushes him, grabbing him by the head, tossing him aside and knocking him unconscious before taking his place in the duel with Yami, while saying, "You have served me well, little worm. But You Have Outlived Your Usefulness!"
    • In Yu-Gi-Oh!: Capsule Monsters, Alexander has no qualms with sacrificing his servants' monsters and banishing them from the game. He tries to convince Yugi to do the same, but gets called out about it.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's: The Three Emperors of Yliaster do this to Jeager and Team Catastrophe. They survive thanks to the heroes.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL: The third-party villain Tron considers his own sons expendable, and after they lose their duels, uses their life forces to empower his own secret weapon.
  • Rosario + Vampire: Gyokuro implies at one point that she'll do this to Akua, claiming she can't actually trust her because Akua is only her adoptive daughter. Ironically, she herself is subjected to this at the hands of the Masked Man, the real leader of Fairy Tale, who instead of saving her from being consumed by Alucard when he could easily have done so, stands back and watches her die.
  • In Zatch Bell!, Gash's evil twin Zeon hires a demon named Baltro to kidnap Kiyomaro's father and lure Gash into a battle. When Baltro and his partner fail to burn Gash's book, Zeon promptly burns Baltro's, stating that all losers in battles must return to the demon world and that those are the rules.

    Audio Plays 
  • Big Finish Doctor Who: In Mistfall, Solus never had any attention with of brining Drell along with him after they assassinate the Decider. Instead, he shoots him, leaving his body as another piece of misdirection.

    Comic Books 
  • Discussed in the Astro City story "A Little Knowledge", when a small-time crook discovers the secret identity of local crimefighter Jack-In-The-Box. He considers getting rich by selling the information to a local crime lord, then realizes that his life could be forfeit once the deal is complete.
  • Beast Wars: Uprising: The Resistance tries to do this to both Cheetor and Preditron. They always intended to kill the latter (the Tripredacus Council asked for his death in exchange for their allegiance, and the Resistance saw them as more useful in the long term), while the former starts openly criticizing the Resistance leadership for their amorality so much that they decide he’ll be more useful as a martyr.
    • In the Grand Finale, Galva Convoy has the Vehicons kill the whole Builder Assembly the second he’s gotten everything he needs from them; he’s secretly an Omnicidal Maniac, so he was always planning to kill them anyways by the end.
    • A major event in the backstory is the Targetmaster Extirpation, where the Builders banished the Targetmasters to a colony world since the war was over and they’re powers made them a danger to the peace. By “banished to a colony world”, we mean they led the Targetmasters to said colony, then shot them all to death and buried them in shallow graves. Only a tiny few escaped alive.
  • In the Chick Tract "The Poor Revolutionist" the Communist Villain Protagonist dies this way.
  • In an old comic called The Comet, the title character may have been the Trope Namer when he shoots one gang member to death:
    Comet: Bud, you've outlived your usefulness.
  • In Conqueror of the Barren Earth, this seems to be at least part of Jinal's motivation for killing Zhengla: once they have succeeded in conquering the world together, she does not need him anymore and decides that she would prefer to rule alone. Of course, she was also motivated by the desire for revenge. This is an unusual example, in that it is the hero of the story doing this.
  • In Crisis on Infinite Earths, Brainiac and Lex Luthor are assembling an army of supervillains. Alexei Luthor, the Earth 2 counterpart of Lex Luthor, demands to know why Lex should be in command given he is just as smart. Brainiac responds that Alexei is correct and that the venture does not require two Luthors, then promptly vaporizes Alexei.
  • Djinn opens with this trope when the Sultan orders his favorite harem girl to get rid of her predecessor, saying that "her touch holds no more mystery for him". She does as he ordered, but also murders the previous favorite's little daughter which disturbs the Sultan.
  • G.I. Joe (IDW): Cobra Commander eventually decides that Xamot has outlived his usefulness and orders one of his more loyal henchmen to shoot him. Unfortunately for the Commander, the henchman in question is Chuckles, a G.I. Joe spy who has not pulled a Face–Heel Turn like the Commander thinks and has, in fact, been waiting for an excuse to blow the Commander’s head off. He figures this is as good an excuse as any. Cue Cobra Commander’s head getting blown off.
  • Green Lantern: The Star Sapphire gem once possessed a girl named Krystal so it could have a temporary body while it searched for its preferred host, Carol Ferris. It breaks into Carol's jet, Body Surfs into Carol, mocks Krystal as an inferior specimen unworthy of Hal Jordan's love, then flies away. Sadly, the confused, naked girl barely has enough time to ask what is going on before the jet crashes.
  • In the comic of The Incredibles, this is what happens to Underminer when he objects to Xerek using him and the Incredibles-decorated mecha as a punching bag in a large scheme to discredit the supers.
  • The Joker from Batman often does this with his henchmen after he feels they have fulfilled their purpose. Or even if they haven't, really.
    • Joker also repeatedly tries to do this to Harley Quinn - in part because he does have feelings for her and hates having those feelings. He regularly fails and she regularly comes back to him, and as time went on he stopped doing it... so often.
    • In Death of the Family, The Joker reveals that he has done this to a long chain of Harley Quinns before the present one. He tries to do the same to her. However, she subverts it by escaping him and letting herself be put in prison.
    • He also does this often to allies, teammates and partners he doesn't particularly like - adaptations have made this a character trait: after getting what he wanted he tends to screw over the poor fools who thought it would be a good idea to work with him. Or are merely desperate enough to do so.
  • Jonah Hex: In #10 of the original series, el Papagayo has his men transport the stolen gold across a rickety rope bridge. When they have carried the majority of of it across, he cuts the bridge down while they are on it so he will not have to share the gold.
  • In Les Légendaires, the Shaki warns General Rasga about this concerning his alliance with Darkhell. His warning almost immediately proves correct when Darkhell indeed betrays Rasga two pages later:
    General Rasga: Darkhell, what are you doing ? We are allies!
    Darkhell: You should have listened the warrior Shaki... I have no ally. Just tools I throw out when they are of no more use to me.
  • Maus: Vladek notes that in Auschwitz he saw the Polish smugglers who ratted him and Anja out to the Nazis once more. The smugglers had eventually been deported to the death camp as well, because the Nazis had no use for them anymore. He never saw them again.
  • Once the Mane Six reach her castle in issue #4 of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (IDW), Queen Chrysalis decides she doesn't need to keep the CMC around anymore, mainly just to spare herself any more grief from their chattering. And no, she doesn't intend to just let them go either...
  • Junior from Secret Six offers a $20 million bounty for the ultimate get out of jail free card (as well as the heads of the people hiding it). Junior's henchmen were shocked at the amount:
    Junior: Money is nothing. Card is only thing that matters. Plus, will kill whoever brings it to me. Substantial savings.
  • In Sin City, Manute had a mole spying on the girls of Old Town for him. Once she gave him the information he needed, he ordered her killed. The mole does die, though not at the hands of the bad guys, but at the hands of Dwight and the girls of Old Town after they rescue their leader Gail, who the mole sold out.
  • In Sonic Universe's "30 Years Later" storyline, King Shadow breaks Lien-Da's armband, causing her to fade into the time-line after she rescues him from stasis. This seems to be because she questioned releasing Tikhaos.
  • In Spider-Man, Roderick Kingsley does this to Jason Macendale Jr., mostly because Jason gave the name Hobgoblin a bad rep and he was coming back to show everyone how it was done.
  • The twisted relationship between Dark Jedi Asajj Ventress and the warlord Osika Kirske who killed her parents and her Jedi Master. After becoming a powerful dark sider and conquering her war-torn planet, she killed most of the warlords but spared Kirske and locked him in the deepest part of her dungeons. When Obi-Wan and the ARC trooper Alpha escaped the prison, they encountered Kirske, who accompanied them and explained his relationship to Asajj. He added that the most likely reason that he was alive was that Ventress needed an archnemesis, otherwise she would have no one to hate. Unfortunately for Kirske, Obi-Wan had messed with Ventress enough by this point that he seemed to have taken Kirske's place as most hated enemy, and when the trio encountered her she beheaded the warlord without a second thought.
  • Supergirl:
    • In Adventure Comics #404, Starfire's henchman Derek Ames succeeds at nullifying Supergirl's powers, but his boss has him shot anyway when she fears he will expose her operation.
    • It happens at the end of Red Daughter of Krypton. After meeting Supergirl, Worldkiller-1 decides that he doesn't need its old host body anymore because the Kryptonian girl would make for a better container, and destroys its host.
    • In Supergirl Vol. 2, Supergirl faces down to a clone of super-villain Parasite programmed to self-destruct after carrying out his creator's goals.
  • Superboy Volume Six: Harvest wants him dead for this reason.
  • Tintin's archnemesis, Roberto Rastapopoulos, shows his worst in Flight 714. Along with his enemies/victims, he had plans to kill every one of his minions (with the possible exception of Allan, his dragon) before his master plan was through. He doesn't get to carry out said plans, though.
    • Rastapopoulos reveals this under Truth Serum that's he's been accidentally injected with, even telling the doctor who invented the serum that he was also meant to be killed instead of being paid off. The alarmed doctor promptly does a Heel–Face Turn, aiding Tintin in his efforts.
  • In The Transformers (IDW) Autocracy Megatron and Orion Pax join forces against Zeta Primes oppressive rule, after Zeta Prime was shot by Megatron, he soon shoots Orion Pax, stating he has served his purpose.
  • Given a twist in The Transformers: Robots in Disguise; in the backstory, Onyx Prime killed his loyal henchman, Megatronus, not just because he outlived his usefulness, but also because Onyx was fulfilling a Stable Time Loop. “Onyx” is actually a time-displaced Shockwave, who manipulated history based on his own memories of how it all happened; Megatronus was recorded as dying that day, so he had to die to keep the timeline intact.
    Megatronus: Master... I did everything you asked. I followed your guidance for all these eons... And this is my reward...?
    Onyx: You were never more than a means to an end. And as for your reward... Cybertron shall remember your name. After a fashion.
  • In the Vampirella story "... And be a Bride of Chaos" Dracula was going to feed on Pendragon. Fortunately, he was distracted.
  • Pa in Varmints has several outlaws gather onto a train for what they think is a job. In reality, he placed them all there so he could off them all at once for various reasons from incompetence to betrayal.
  • Watchmen The Big Bad does this to the people who helped him with various parts of his master plan, so they won't be able to piece together what really happened. If it helps, he feels really, really sorry about having to do it. Honest. Applies to The Movie too, though the elimination of certain story elements due to the Revised Ending also cuts an entire ocean liner's worth of people that died for the cause in the comic.
  • Nemesis the Warlock: After he's overthrown, Torquemada is rescued by a group of die-hard Terminators. Before activating his weapon of mass destruction, he drives his sword through his last follower after he has served his purpose.
  • Black Moon Chronicles: When The End of the World as We Know It comes knocking, the dragons get rid of all their dragon knight servants/partners/protectors rather spectacularly before getting the hell out of Dodge through the same portal as the humans.
  • Arawn: The Black Cauldron is constantly trying to pull this on its current owner, seducing a new one and then enticing them to feed it their predecessor's body and soul. Defied in the case of Owen after the Cauldron convinces him to resurrect Arawn as its new vessel: the Cauldron immediately tries to eat him but Arawn's loyalty to his friend forces the Cauldron to back down.
  • Judge Dredd: Standard operating procedure for the Dark Judges. Since there are only four of them, they are fond of recruiting the regular Judge force to assist them in their mission to wipe out all life. Of course, this only means the Judges have bought themselves a temporary reprieve...
    Judge Fire: Slaves should not turn on their masters!
  • In The Transformers, Ratbat decided to indulge in some Evil Gloating about his plans to steal the power of The Underbase for himself. Unfortunately, he decided to do this right in front of Scorponok, who was co-leader of the Decepticons. Since Scorponok got the position because Asskicking Equals Authority while Ratbat had gotten it due to his skill with logistics, and the Decepticons were known for issues with disloyal members, Scorponok promptly blasted Ratbat into scrap metal.

    Fan Works 
  • A Crown of Stars: Jinnai declared that Asuka and Shinji would be useless to him after the dummy plug system was ready and he would sell her into slavery.
  • Advice and Trust: Shinji and Asuka -together with Rei- had won victory after victory against giant alien monsters. Still, when they disobeyed a direct order Commander Gendo fired them -even though they had defeated the enemy-, stating that he had no need of pilots that disobeyed his orders now that he had the dummy plug system to control the Evas.
  • The Child of Love: Gendo planned to get Asuka killed after getting her to carry his scheme forward because he would have not use for her afterwards.
    • In chapter 5:
      Gendo: Each Child has one use and only one. The Second will soon be useless when everything is finished.
      Fuyutsuki: You mean...she'll be killed.
      Gendo: You know she's the only one capable of giving birth. And that's one of the reasons she has been designated as the Second Child. Her death is only a detail. I'm sure she'll be proud of her role in humankind's evolution.
  • The Deliver Us From Evil Series has this in Mortality. Culverton Smith tortures Holmes with an inch of his life and gloats over the guy while he's dying. This, in turn, trips off Watson's protective instincts and really pisses him off. It doesn't help Smith that Watson most likely kills Smith with his medical skills.
  • In Supergirl fanfic Hellsister Trilogy, Satan Girl is worried about the possibility of Mordru obliterating her once her work is done. Hoping to avoid this scenario, she seduces him.
    She might have to watch out for him, as well. If she were viewed as a tool, he might intend to simply use her and destroy her once the job was finished. How could she guard against that?
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Mare of Steel: Brainiac uses Steel Wing in order to gather intelligence on Rainbow Dash/Supermare, but when he decides that Steel Wing's too impulsive, he tips Princess Luna off to his actions and lets him get arrested (and also wipes all memory he has of Brainiac).
    • The Pony POV Series plays this interestingly in the Dark World, as Rancor/Disruption pulls this on her weapon, the Concept Killing Spear, destroying it as soon as it's fulfilled its purpose of allowing her to steal Destruction's power from Discord. And this is justified, since she's aware that the Spear could be used against her, so disposes of it as soon as she doesn't need it anymore. It was also later explained that the gods had been wanting to destroy the dang thing for thousands of years.
    • The Powers of Harmony: Awareness of this trope and the fact that Cetus will probably enact it the moment she stops being useful is why Eclipse begins to plot against her.
    • The Longingverse: As soon as Bloodwing becomes an Alicorn, he steals the energy of his minion, Black. He got better... In a manner of speaking...
    • The Stars Ascendant has Luna call out Discord for being an idiot; his betrayal of Equestria was inevitable, but it was stupid of him to betray Equestria to someone who was going to pull this trope on him the moment he didn't need Discord's help anymore.
  • Kage no Naruto takes this to an almost idiotic extreme. Naruto kills of several of his minions because they're no longer necessary. They're still very useful; just not necessary. Of course, given how his modus operandi seems to be For the Evulz, this is hardly surprising.
  • The Lion King Adventures: Scar, having gone completely Ax-Crazy following the conquest of the Pride Lands, slaughters his hyena minions, figuring he doesn't need them anymore. This is what convinces his partner Hago to kill him in preemptive self-defense.
  • The villains of Prophecies Of The Morphing Grid dish these out as a matter of course. One particular instance is in the third story, where at what is otherwise a perfectly normal villain meeting, The Dragon, Dark Venom, who had been elected President of the United States and has more than a little of The Antichrist about him, suddenly and utterly nonchalantly executes two of the United Alliance of Evil's human collaborators, paramilitary leader Colonel Wyman and robber-baron Sal Muldoon. Even the other villains are shocked at Venom's brutality, but he just shrugs and explains that he's already nationalized the two men's respective organizations, rendering them loose ends.
  • In An Alternate Keitaro Urashima, Ryuichi runs headlong into this after failing to sabotage Keitaro and Miyabi's relationship. Word gets back to his boss and he loses his job, but he clings to the hope Granny Hina will help him out. When he finally gets a chance to tell her what's happened, however, she completely blows him off, letting him know she doesn't give a damn what happens to him now that he's no longer useful to her.
  • Parodied and subverted in Tealove's Steamy Adventure. The Duchess tells Colt Skylark that he has failed her, and that the time has come to terminate him. Skylark, clearly familiar with this trope, checks to make sure he isn't standing on a trap door and looks around to see who's pointing a weapon at him. Instead, the Duchess hands him a stack of papers and explains that it's his notice of termination of employment, and now he just needs to sign the non-disclosure clause, the non-compete clause, etc etc.
  • Ages of Shadow: After Brenner loses his duel to Trace, Jade/Yade Khan doesn't hesitate to step in and rip out his Sun Soul, leaving Brenner comatose. While there is certainly a bit of You Have Failed Me at work, it's mostly this trope — Brenner was needed to reconnect Jade with her Shadow Walkers, and to create both the Yade Khan game as a means of collecting soul energy and the technology to track down the other Sun Souls. With all that done, the presence of both the Walkers and Jade's pact with Alonso to act on the resources and information provided by Brenner leaves Brenner himself redundant and no longer needed.
    • Just before the Final Battle, Jade disbands the Shadow Walkers, since she no longer needs servants on Earth if she's going to be free to roam it. To her credit, however, she gives them all a chance to try and waylay Trace and his friends, though really this just means reducing them to cannon fodder.
  • Said almost verbatim by Evil!Alice to Arawn in the second sequel to Disney's War - A Crossover Story, titled The Final Adventure, after Arawn has let the heroes sneak into her bedroom to try to assassinate her.
    Evil!Alice: "While you’ve been ever so helpful to me, Arawn, so loyal, I’m afraid your usefulness has ended."
  • In Child of the Storm, the alliance between Lucius Malfoy and Baron Von Strucker comes to a sudden end when Malfoy decides Strucker is a liability and kills him (after drugging him and stealing the secrets of controlling the Winter Soldier), seizing control of HYDRA in the process.
  • A Brighter Dark: A rare (somewhat) heroic example. Unlike the original story, Garon gives his permission to Corrin to kill Hans in revenge for stabbing her friend, Lilith, in the back with his ax, stating that he no longer has need for him anymore.
  • madsthenerdygirl's MCU Rewrites: In Avengers: Civil War, Zemo kills the woman he had impersonate Wanda Maximoff to leave her body for the Avengers to find as part of his Taking You with Me gambit.
  • When the Changeling protagonist of the Trollhunters fanfic Becoming the Mask finds out Gunmar's plan to bring Eternal Night wasn't just a metaphor for trolls taking over the surface, he anticipates this because Changelings' immunity to sunlight is the main reason Gunmar keeps them around. This is one of the motivations for his Heel–Face Turn.

    Film - Animated 
  • Rourke does this to Helga in Atlantis: The Lost Empire. Similarly to the situation in The Great Mouse Detective, they're elevating on an aircraft, their evil scheme almost succeeded, but the aircraft is too heavily loaded to ascend. Rourke throws Helga overboard, but she manages to live for another few seconds and shoots Rourke's zeppelin.
  • In Despicable Me, a downplayed version occurs where Gru was originally going to leave the girls at an amusement park after they unknowingly helped him steal the Shrink Ray from Vector. After enjoying the day with them, he changes his mind.
  • The Great Mouse Detective: Professor Ratigan kicks his minion Fidget into the Thames because the aircraft they're flying is too heavy. While falling, Fidget screams about his inability to fly or swim. Kick the Dog, indeed. Though a Disney Adventures comic reveals Fidget survived and pulled a Heel–Face Turn.
  • Judge Frollo ordered Captain Phoebus killed in The Hunchback of Notre Dame because Phoebus refused to burn down an innocent family's house - with the family still inside. Doubles as You Have Failed Me. He is saved by Esmeralda, who Frollo is doing this whole thing to try to find.
  • DOR-15 or "Doris" pulls it on the Bowler Hat Guy in the alternate future climax of Meet the Robinsons.
  • Backfires in Rango when the mayor attempts to dispose of Rattlesnake Jake, but his gun is empty.
  • Medusa tried to pull it on Snoops in the original Rescuers movie. It didn't work out.
  • In Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, Zoom hires the Rogues to capture Flash. Once they do, Zoom reveals he planted bombs on them all. Only the Justice League's intervention saves them.
  • In The LEGO Movie, Lord Business demonstrates how even more evil he is by leaving his lieutenant Bad Cop to die in the Think Tank with the Master Builders after he's set it to self-destruct, because now that his plan's achieving its completion, why would he need him anymore?
  • Prince Hans to Anna in Frozen. True, it's Murder by Inaction as she's very sick and he simply chooses to leave her to die, and true he probably knew what she was asking of him would never have worked anyway... but you can see the moment that this trope occurs to him, whereupon he gives her a Break Them by Talking treatment to speed up her decline that's very much this trope.
    • Possibly his later attack on Elsa is also this, though he might have genuinely thought the country would be un-cursed when she died.
  • La Ballade des Dalton: The Daltons plan to kill Lucky Luke once they no longer need him to collect Henry Dalton's estate. He's also betraying them all along, but they don't know that until the end.
  • Batman Unlimited: Mech vs. Mutants sees the Penguin try to invoke this on Freeze after the latter creates a serum that can turn Killer Croc, Chemo, Bane, and Clayface into monsters and they freeze over Gotham, though Freeze survives and later helps the heroes.
  • Batman: Under the Red Hood has the Joker do this to Black Mask - who hires him to kill the Red Hood. In order to get Hood's attention, he ties up the mobsters of Gotham, both the ones that work for Hood and Black Mask himself, and set them all on fire. Luckily Batman shows up this time.
  • Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker: after Jordan Pryce helps the Jokerz with their thefts, the Jokerz inform him that he's become a loose end. And loose ends should be tied up...
  • My Little Pony: The Movie (2017): The Storm King reveals to Tempest Shadow that he only used her, and attempts to blast her away with his new powers after doing so. Justified to some degree, as Tempest wasn't exactly the most trustworthy of individuals and he'd already had one number 2 stab him in the back who was seemingly more trustworthy than she was.
  • Aladdin: After Aladdin gives the Genie's lamp to a disguised Jafar, he reaches up for Jafar to help pull him out of the collapsing Cave of Wonders. Instead, Jafar grabs him by the wrist and, when Aladdin asks what he's doing, Jafar says, "Giving you your reward! Your eternal reward!" and pulls out a dagger to kill him. It backfires, though—while Aladdin falls back down into the cave, seemingly eliminating him as far as Jafar is concerned, it turns out that Abu has swiped the lamp, leaving Jafar with nothing.

    Film - Live Action 
  • In Angels & Demons, The Dragon is retired with prejudice after having dealt with or tried to kill, in the fourth case anyway the four cardinals. This is especially conspicuous after it was revealed his client institution was a long-term repeat customer.
    You know, when they call me, and they all call me, it is so important to them that I know what they ask is the Lord's will.
  • Played in an interesting way in American Ultra. Yates is killed in part because he denies that his massively illegal operation to kill one former assassin on US territory, that has repeatedly failed and cost the CIA many good agents was at all, in any way, a bad idea, and that he intended to continue pushing for more attempts at this particular stupid idea if released. One of the few cases of a more or less "Good Guy" pulling this, due to the sheer incompetence, stupidity and malice displayed by the victim.
  • Annie (2014):
    • A Lighter and Softer take on the trope. Guy shrugs off telling Hannigan that after the election, the "real parents" will just "dump her back in the system", but he isn't even certain that's true. Nobody actually says they're going to kill Annie, but once she leaves with her "real parents" and the truth comes out, it is treated as though she is in grave danger.
    • Also Guy does this to Hannigan by hiring the fake parents himself, and cutting Hannigan out of the deal, leading to her Heel–Face Turn.
  • The Avengers (1998). After Sir August's Weather-Control Machine is finished he murders the scientists who helped him build it.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Lothos to Amilyn when Buffy's ready to stake him, without a word. Lothos plays a violin, then gives Amilyn a very unsympathetic smile. Amilyn only has enough time to realize the implications of that before Buffy stakes him...though it takes awhile for him to actually die and he actually lasts longer than Lothos himself!
  • In Casino, the Chicago bosses order The Purge because of a combination of this and He Knows Too Much.
  • The film version of Clear and Present Danger has the drug cartel spy Felix Cortez snap Moira Wolfe's neck after getting from her the information his employer desired.note 
  • Cliffhanger, threatened a number of times but never actually played straight. Mostly because the characters take steps to ensure they still are useful.
  • Cold Pursuit: When Dexter makes one joke too many, Viking shoots him and orders Sly to cut off his head and present it to White Bull as a peace offering.
  • Constantine. The Big Bad Gabriel disposes of his ally Balthasar after he completes his mission to draw out Angela Dodson.
  • Cypher: People keep warning the protagonist that his current employer will do this to him. Then when he decides to betray that employer and work with the one who warned him about it, someone else warns him that his new employers will do the same. Doesn't actually happen to him, but it does happen with Finster and Callaway and their Mooks who, after being used to help retrieve the MacGuffin, are blown up by Rooks as he makes his escape.
  • In The Dark Knight Saga:
    • In Batman Begins, Scarecrow does this to Carmine Falcone not only because he isn't useful anymore, but also because He Knows Too Much and threatens to blackmail Scarecrow with it.
    • The Dark Knight:
      • The Joker does this to the entire mob, who hire him to take out Batman only to wish they hadn't as Joker's machinations ruin and eventually kill them - the only one who doesn't get killed by Joker is Maroni, who gets Two-Face set on him instead.
      • In the opening bank robbery, nonetheless, the Joker walks away with the entire $68 million haul for himself, tricking his clowns into shooting other, and only needing to kill one person (the bus driver). This seemingly relies on a degree of stupidity and/or Genre Blindness from the clowns: they're told to kill someone once he's done his part...and don't realize the same will happen to them. One guy does catch one when he learns another clown was told to do this, but is wrong in who kills him.
    • In The Dark Knight Rises, Bane does this to Daggett. Earlier, he does this on the two men who capture Gordon and deliver him to Bane. Bane breaks the first guy's neck, then tells the second one he'll kill him as soon as he searches Gordon's pockets. The henchman follows orders up to the end. After Gordon escapes, Bane shoots the henchman and drops his body in the storm drain outflow.
  • As soon as Francis reveals to Deadpool that he can't fix Wade's face, his minutes are numbered.
  • Near the end of Demolition Man, the main villain Simon Phoenix tries to unfreeze all the criminals held in the cry-prison at once to kickstart his new dystopia. He thanks the prison's cryo-stasis technicians for their help, before gunning them all down because he no longer has any use for them.
  • Die Hard:
    • Die Hard: Hans Gruber's willingness to blow up the Nakatomi building's roof when Karl was up there chasing McClane might have been an earlier example of this trope, as the original film's Dragon had become so obsessed with avenging his brother that he was becoming an unmanagable liability to Gruber's plans.
    • The villains of Live Free or Die Hard are quite fond of this trope. They execute everyone they have contact with once they're through with them.
  • Subverted in the only clever moment in the Dungeons & Dragons film. Damodar begs Profion to take out the parasite in his head as promised, and the spell Profion casts knocks him away and to the floor, apparently killing him. However, Damodar then gets right back up as the parasite leaves.
    • Though in the Sci Fi Channel sequel it turned out he was cursed and became undead.
  • Inverted in End of Days. Satan resurrects several of his minions after Jericho kills them because they still might prove useful to him.
  • In The Enforcer, when the girlfriend of one of the terrorists is gravely wounded by a police officer during a robbery, he asks Bobby to help him carry her back to the van. Bobby tells him she's dead and taking her with them would slow them down. Her boyrfiend says she isn't dead. Bobby reiterates his opinion she's dead by emptying his revolver into her.
  • In A Fairly Odd Movie: Grow Up, Timmy Turner!, Hugh J. Magnate does this to Mr. Crocker.
  • A Fairly Odd Summer: Foop intends to kill Crocker after the Abra-Cadabrium is destroyed.
  • In Firestorm 1998, Randall Alexander Shaye systematically kills each of the convicts who helped him escape once they's stopped being useful/become a liability.
  • A nonfatal example in G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Cobra Commander leaves Destro to rot in prison, telling him he's "out of the band".
    • although actually Destro was likely killed when the prison was blown up. Also in an earlier script draft Cobra Commander shoots him after delivering the line.
  • In Goodfellas, Jimmy murders all of his cohorts in the Lufthansa heist (except Henry and Tommy) so he won't have to split the loot with them or risk them constantly blabbing about it.
  • Grosse Pointe Blank has a rather touching subversion. Martin Blank has, throughout the film, been set up as a ruthless and highly efficient hitman. Towards the end of the film, when he realizes he has to go on the run and possibly abandon his career, he orders his assistant/secretary Marcella to cover their traces, and then tells her to look under her desk. She immediately freezes up, expecting this trope to be in force, and looks under the desk. There is a package duct taped there... but it turns out to be a huge bundle of cash.
  • The Hangover Part III:
    • Chow does this to the Wolfpack after they help him steal the gold from the Mexican villa. He then proceeds to reactivate the alarm and snaps the necks of the guard dogs before leaving them to their fate.
    • Marshall does this to Black Doug after he frees the Wolfpack from the Mexican authorities. He claims that his head of security isn't doing his job if the three guys break into his villa and steal the gold.
  • Highlander III: The Sorcerer: When Kane and his two companions are released from their entombment, he almost immediately kills one to weed out his remaining opposition.
  • James Bond villains are fond of this trope.
    • Stated by Red Grant to Bond on the train scene in From Russia with Love. The only reason SPECTRE kept Bond alive up to that point was for him to get the Lektor, and with it within their grasp, Bond and Tatiana are now expendable. Unfortunately for SPECTRE, things don't go as planned.
    • Auric Goldfinger thanks his various criminal counterparts for helping him smuggle in all the necessary bits and pieces for his nefarious scheme, then proceeds to kill them all. Well, all except the one who wanted out. He kills him, too, but that's a different trope.
    • In Thunderball, Angelo Palazzi, the impersonator, demanded a raise immediately before his mission of stealing the nuclear warhead. He smugly points out that with so much time and effort already spent on the plot, there's no way SPECTRE would walk away from it now, certainly not over a pay dispute. His boss, Emilio Largo, was not pleased and kills him right after he delivers the goods. Whether or not this was always the plan, or only done because he demanded more money is unclear.
      • In the book and in Never Say Never Again, the impersonator is Domino's brother, and is killed because he was a direct link to the Big Bad (his sister being the Big Bad's mistress) and the chance he might start blabbing to someone.
    • Diamonds Are Forever. After Blofeld gets enough diamonds to create his Laser Kill Sat, he sends his assassins Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd to execute the members of his diamond smuggling ring.
    • The Spy Who Loved Me. After Dr. Bechmann and Professor Markovitz completed the submarine tracking system for Stromberg, he called them in, congratulated them, and told them he was transferring $20 million to their Swiss bank accounts. After he sent them off in a helicopter, he blew it up by remote control and sent a message cancelling the money transfer.
      • A possible case with the Liparus and crew happens later. Immediately after the nuclear missiles detonate, the ship is rocked by explosions and begins to sink. It is entirely possible that fires from the earlier battle reached the ship's fuel or ammo storage, but the timing suggests this may have been a factor as well. The ship had completely served its purpose by that point after-all.
    • For Your Eyes Only: Blofeld fatally electrocutes the helicopter pilot who delivered Bond into his trap. Blofeld tells Bond, "Don't concern yourself with the pilot... one of my less useful people."
    • A View to a Kill: After his workers finish setting up a plan, Max Zorin not only detonates the explosives early while people are still in the caves, but then proceeds to take out an assault rifle and gun down all the survivors. While laughing the entire time.
    • However, Licence to Kill averted it: When The Dragon asks why they don't just kill the corrupt cop they bribed, the Big Bad insists that loyalty is important to him, and pays up the bribe as promised. The guy does die, but at Bond's hands.
      • But later in the film, when being chided by a lackey about the cost of losing two tanker trucks full of heroin dissolved in gasoline to Bond's actions, he declares that "...it's time to start cutting overhead", and guns down the lackey with an Uzi. However he's clearly undergoing a Villainous Breakdown by this stage.
    • Tomorrow Never Dies: During the standoff on Carver's ship, James Bond is holding Big Bad Elliot Carver's tech genius, Gupta, hostage at gunpoint in order to get him to release Wai Lin, who Carver himself has taken hostage. After Gupta confirms that Carver's stolen missiles are ready to fire on Beijing, Carver promptly kills him, declaring, "It seems you have outlived your contract."
    • In Casino Royale (2006), LeChiffre himself is killed by his superior Mr. White for not being reliable enough.
      Mr. White: Money isn't as valuable to our organization as knowing who to trust.
  • Quentin Turnbull does this to Adleman Lusk in Jonah Hex. Lusk says that he will hang if Turnbull's scheme fails and Turnbull promises him that he will not hang.
  • Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom: Wheatley and his mercenaries work with Claire, Owen, and their team to capture the raptor Blue. Once they have Blue, they shoot Owen with a tranquilizer dart and leave his body in the path of an approaching lava flow, and lock Claire and Franklin in a building threatened by lava. They were about to dispose of Zia, but she points out she's the only one among them who can treat Blue's injuries. Fortunately for the others, Owen wakes up in time to evade the lava, and Claire and Franklin manage to escape the building.
  • In the first scene of Machete, Machete attempts to rescue an apparent kidnap victim. When he finds her, she's totally naked and flirts with him, then stabs him when he lets his guard down, as she's actually working for the Big Bad Torrez. Torrez tells her she did excellent, then has his sidekick shoot her in the head.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • In Iron Man, Obadiah Stane has Raza and his men killed after getting Tony's first armor suit and its plans.
      Raza: I hope you'll repay me with the gift of iron soldiers.
      (Stane paralyzes Raza)
      Stane: (in Urdu) This is the only gift you shall receive.
      • He later almost kills Pepper Potts after getting the Iron Monger suit.
    • Captain America: The First Avenger:
      • Subverted as a minor Pet the Dog moment for the villain. When Dr. Zola notices that there's only enough room in the escape craft for one, it seems as though Red Skull is leaving him to die in the self-destructing base. But nope, Red Skull hands him the keys to his personal Cool Car and tells him not to scratch the paint job. Oh, but surely there's a bomb in the car. Right? Again, nope; Zola just starts the car and drives off to safety. As Red Skull's top scientist, Zola is a bit harder to replace than Mooks or even Elite Mooks and this way, Zola will be able to deliver the Skull's favorite car to him while he's at it.
      • It's also invoked by Col. Phillips to Dr. Zola after he's been captured by the SSR.
    • Black Panther (2018): Killmonger has many allies in his plan to overthrow Wakanda, but no qualms in killing any of them if they get in the way of those plans. Just ask his girlfriend.
  • In Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: The Movie, Ivan Ooze commands the brainwashed citizens of Angel Grove to return to the construction site he was freed from and leap off the tall cliff there after construction of his Ecto-Morphicon Titans is done. It's implied he did this to the last group of people to do the same when the machines were built. It's subverted, though, since the kids of Angel Grove are able to hold them back long enough for the Rangers to defeat Ooze and break the trance.
  • In the movie Mystery Men, Casanova Frankenstein kills his own men for no other reason than to show that he is so evil.
    • That and he wasn't willing to wait for them to get out of the way before activating the booby trap that would prevent the advancing heroes from reaching him.
  • In The Mystery of the Hooded Horsemen, the Man Behind the Man Riders guns down Norton once the Riders' power has been broken and he has no further use for him.
  • From The Omen (1976), Damien (aka The Antichrist) is given to the Thorn family in order to secure financial and political power and will dispose of them once it is certain that he will inherit their wealth.
  • In Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, Lord Beckett orders the execution of Elizabeth's father because he hasn't got any use for him anymore now that he gained full authority and the ex-governor got too curious about the MacGuffin.
  • In Pitch Black, Johns constantly warns the others that if they give Riddick the opportunity to betray them and escape the planet by himself, he'll leave them all behind to die. They delay bringing all the power cells to the skiff until the last minute, but they held off too long and the aliens wake up. He's proven right, since as soon as Riddick gets the chance, he steals the cells and traps the other survivors in a cave, planning to take off alone. Carolyn's willingness to sacrifice herself for the other two motivates him to go back and rescue them.
  • In RoboCop (1987), when Murphy and Lewis are chasing Clarence Boddicker and his gang, Boddicker sacrifices one of his henchmen because the henchman is injured and has just bumbled their robbery by inadvertently burning the money. Boddicker throws him from through the cop car's windshield from the villains getaway vehicle while uttering the immortal line, "Can you fly Bobby?"
  • In Scream 4, the killer's accomplice thought that he was a part of a plan to stage a killing spree, frame somebody else for the murders, and pose as the survivors who took down Ghostface, becoming celebrities in the process. Unfortunately for Charlie, Jill Roberts was planning on being the Final Girl — with emphasis on Final. She then stabs Charlie in the heart and tries to make him look like the mastermind of the murders.
  • In Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Irene Adler is quickly killed off because of this.
  • Non-fatal example in Spy Kids: After Alexander Minion gets the third brain, and reveals himself to be the film's real Big Bad, he has Floop (the guy who thought he was controlling everything) locked up in a virtual prison.
  • In Stahlnetz: PSI, two brothers kidnap a little girl for ransom. Then, once they record her voice to prove she is alive, one brother, Larry, reveals that he intends to kill the girl, as she had seen them. And when the other brother objects, Larry beats him up and locks him together with the girl to die.
  • Star Wars:
    • Surprisingly, Big Bad Darth Sidious / Emperor Palpatine only does this twice, and both in Revenge of the Sith. Count Dooku doesn't realize how expendable he is until Sidious orders his replacement, the future Darth Vader, to execute him. Then, once the Separatist leaders have done their job, Sidious informs them that he is sending Vader to "take care of them." Naturally, this means Vader locks the door and slaughters them. Vader's sweetheart Padmé probably would've also been discarded by Sidious, if Vader hadn't accidentally done that himself.
    • He does it a third...or is that first?...time in Return of the Jedi, when he urges Luke to finish off Vader and take his place at the Emperor's side.
    • Three times in Revenge of the Sith: the book states that he would have killed Grievous if he had won against Obi-Wan.
    • It sounds strange, but it's part of the Sith doctrine: kill the other if you can form a stronger duo without him. A Sith apprentice is fully aware that their master may replace them someday… Reciprocally, as a master, if your apprentice doesn't plan to kill you, you are not doing your master's job.
    • Sidious did this to his master, Darth Plagueis, after his election to the chancellorship was secured. The Expanded Universe establishes that this was done with force lightning and a "The Reason You Suck" Speech.
    • He also likely would have arranged to have Darth Maul disposed of at some point during the Clone War, had he not been defeated by Obi-Wan Kenobi's hands earlier.
    • In The Force Awakens, Han brings this up while trying to convince Kylo Ren to rejoin the good guys; he fully expects Supreme Leader Snoke will kill Ren the moment he's fulfilled his purpose. We'll never know whether Han was right or not, as Kylo kills Snoke to seize power in the next movie.
  • In Suicide Squad we get a rare example of a (supposed) good guy going this when Amanda Waller murders an entire room full of her own personnel on the pretense that they were no longer useful and did not have sufficiently high security clearance to retain the information they had obtained.
  • In Superman II, Lex Luthor aids the Kryptonian supervillains by giving them information on Superman and is rewarded twice with the threat of death.
    • First he leads them to Perry White's office and Lois Lane, with the expectation that where she is, Superman will soon show up (and he does). Zod then says "Kill the rest. Starting with him (Luthor)". After the fight with Superman is over, Luthor gives Zod "Superman's address" (the Fortress of Solitude, which Luthor discovered earlier).
    • After Superman surrenders to Zod to save Lois' life, Zod says "We have no more use for this one. Kill him. (Luthor)" However, this is a ploy to let Luthor gain useful information from Superman (Non is about to kill Luthor as Zod commanded but stops at a quiet word from Zod).
  • In The Thieves, Wei Hong shoots the Korean detective in the head once he has disposed of the Hong Kong police inspector.
  • Thirteen Women:Once the last horoscope has been sent, Ursula has no further use for the swami and coerces him into throwing himself in front of a subway train
  • In 30 Days of Night, "the Stranger" is a Quisling who sabotages every means of communication and transport in the town to allow the vampires to freely prey on the townsfolk, on the condition that they turn him into one of them once they're done. After slaughtering most of the townsfolk (bar the protagonists), the vampires find him locked up in the local sheriff's office. Of course, they refuse to uphold their end of the bargain.
    • They also do this in a more sympathetic example to a young girl. They injure her and use her as bait to draw out other people. The plans fails, and they promptly dispose of her afterwards.
  • In 30 Minutes or Less, Dwayne and Travis kidnap a pizza boy, strap a bomb to his chest, and threaten to blow him up unless he robs a bank. When he succeeds, Dwayne reveals that he never had any intention of letting him live, and attempts to detonate the bomb, but Travis stops him.
  • In Time Bandits, Kevin demands that Evil call off his skull-headed monsters or he'll destroy the map. Evil replies, "Very well. I have no more need of them," and destroys all the monsters, then goes a step further and kills all his remaining minions.
  • Happens in Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Megatron orders Soundwave and Laserbeak to kill their human workers who have served their purpose (I.E. Keeping the Ark's existence on the moon a secret). One notable example is when Laserbeak murders one worker's family, including his daughter who may not have even known her dad was working for the Decepticons.
    Megatron: The human collaborators have served their purpose, Soundwave. It's time to eliminate loose ends.
    Soundwave: (As newspaper clippings of dead NASA employees from the past decades appear onscreen.) Laserbeak, Kill them all.
  • In The Transporter, the three bank robbers at the beginning of the film are quietly reminded by protagonist Frank Martin that the conditions to using his car as a getaway car is that there is to be 3 people in the car at one time....they failed to realize he meant the driver as well. So, one of the bank robbers shoots another in the head and tosses him out the door. They get caught anyway, but only some time after Martin has successfully evaded the police and delivered them to their drop-off point.
  • In Trespass, Kyle refuses to cooperate, because he is afraid the robbers will kill them once he does.
  • Clu does this to Castor and Gem in TRON Legacy.
  • In Under Siege 2: Dark Territory, the Big Bad interrogates two lovers by threatening to shove a red-hot needle into the woman's eye. After they panic and tell him the codes he wants, he thanks them and emotionlessly has them thrown out the train to their deaths.
  • In Weekend at Bernie's, the mob boss Bernie contacted to kill Richard and Larry for stumbling upon his insurance fraud scheme has the hitman kill Bernie instead, becuase Bernie's greed had led him to get sloppy, putting his organization at risk. Oh, and Bernie was having an affair with the mob boss's girlfriend.
  • The Wild Geese: the mercenaries recruited by Matheson to rescue Limbani become redundant once Matheson concludes his mining contract. Rather than recall the mercenaries - who would need to be paid! - Matheson recalls their escape plane, leaving them stranded in hostile territory.
  • X-Men Film Series
    • Downplayed. In X-Men: The Last Stand, Magneto leaves Mystique behind when her mutation is removed and genuinely feels bad about it. She repays him in kind by working against him.
      • It makes a bit more sense when you consider the original ending of the movie. When Magneto is at the park bench at the end, Mystique was supposed to be sitting next to him, implying that Magneto's rejection of her and her subsequent betrayal were both actually staged to lower the defenses of Alcatraz Island later.
    • In X-Men: First Class, after Bob Hendry helps place missiles in Turkey, Shaw no longer needs him. He takes the energy from an exploded grenade and sinks it all into Hendry.
  • In xXx, the villains test out a deadly nerve gas on the scientists who developed it for them.
  • In Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Lex Luthor has Anatoli kill the key witness to the Nairomi incident, who Lex had threatened into lying to the Senate to frame Superman for a massacre in Africa. She's smart enough to realise what's happening after seeing Anatoli and some Mooks waiting at her house for her, and tries to avert this trope by confessing to June Finch what she's done, without success. Also, once Wallace O'Keefe and the Senate sub-commitee headed by June Finch have done their job helping turn public opinion against the Man of Steel, Lex has them all killed in an explosion.
  • Cloud Atlas: Joe Napier attempts to convince Bill Smoke he'll be treated to this after he gets paid. Smoke shrugs it off as a "risk of the job".
  • Various examples in Momentum. All involve the anti-heroine Alex in some way.
    • Nicely subverted by The Dragon who understands it's a good idea to keep as many underlings alive as possible when dealing with someone as dangerous and resourceful as Alex. Even when she takes a hitman as a Human Shield, he refuses to Shoot the Hostage.
    • Alex herself eliminates her dangerously psychotic crew member Wayne during the opening bank heist. Justified since he would have killed her otherwise.
    • Inverted by Alex. She's smart enough to keep a valuable data drive hidden as a bargaining chip, knowing the bad guys will be reluctant to kill her until it's recovered.
  • The 1995 Venezuelan film Sicario has a group of Columbian street kids being trained for an assassination by a cartel boss. The protagonist is chosen as the best shooter and taken away by the cartel boss in his limousine, whereupon cartel soldiers gun down the others. The protagonist doesn't see this, but is smart enough to know his mentor has been ordered to kill him after he's committed the murder. He tries to talk him out of it, but has to shoot his mentor anyway.
  • A non fatal version is used in Trading Places. Millionaire brothers, Mortimer and Randolph Duke, owners of a prestigious trading company make a bet centering around the Nature vs. Nurture debate, and bring in Billy Ray Valentine, a black two bit hustler, and train him to be a stock broker, while they ruin the life of Lois Winthrope III, one of their best traders, by freezing his accounts, and kicking him out of his mansion. After Winthrope unsuccessfully tries tries to frame Valentine and flees into the night after crashing the Christmas party, the Duke brothers settle their one dollar bet in a bathroom, and discuss how they will switch back Valentine and Winthorpe's lives. They instead agree that they don't Winthorpe working for them anymore, and when the topic of Valentine comes up, they also agree that they don't want him (using a racial slur in their description) in their company, and they'll keep him on until soon after New Year's day when they plan on making a fortune through insider trading. This would come back to bite them, since Valentine was in a stall and heard everything.

    Multiple Media 
  • Makuta Teridax from BIONICLE 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.

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

    Professional Wrestling 
  • The National Wrestling Alliance pulled this on Smokey Mountain Wrestling 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, TNA, Zero 1) and then declared the NWA no longer useful.note 
  • 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 the Chikara BDK for embarrassing him, 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.
  • 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 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."
  • 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.

    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!
  • 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?
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Regularly and gleefully used by the Dark Eldar and Chaos.
    • The Inquisition are by no means above this, either. Or anyone else for that matter.
    • The Emperor had the Thunder Warriors purged after they helped him take over Earth/Terra. The justification for this was that the Thunder Warriors were psychologically and physically unstable due to their flawed Bio-Augmentation. 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.

    Theatre 
  • 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.

    Visual Novels 
  • Most of the villans of Fate/stay night are of the manipulator kind and are really fond of this trope. Kotomine tries pulling it on Shirou and Saber in Fate after he fails to tempt them with the Grail (fails because Lancer interferes), and Rin in Unlimited Blade Works (fails because Lancer interferes) — followed by pulling it on Lancer himself by ordering him to kill himself (succeeds, but Lancer takes him down with him). In Heaven's Feel, Zouken takes over the Big Bad-ship and ends up trying to pull this trope on Sakura and fails.
  • In Higurashi: When They Cry, Okonogi gives Takano this treatment near the end of Matsubayashi-hen after it becomes clear her plans to trigger Protocol 34 have been completely foiled. Complete with a Hannibal Lecture about how Tokyo never really cared about her research and was only using her a pawn. He than hands her a gun with a single bullet and tells her to blow her brains out. And if not for the intervention of Hanyu, that is what she most likely would have done. It is safe to assume that she does not fare better in the other worlds either. This is an especially unusual example because Takano is supposed to be the Big Bad.
  • In Umineko: When They Cry, the same Okonogi from Higurashi is eventually revealed to have been working with the main Sumadera branch to eliminate Kasumi and her guards. Because Ange had at that point become a liability and could become a witness, Okonogi ordered Amakusa to kill Ange as soon as he finished off Kasumi and her guards.
  • Ever 17 offers rare heroic example. In the 17 years between the first LeMU incident, and the "Third Eye" project Dr Tanaka had collected enough evidence of villainous activity of Leiblich Pharmaceutical to completely destroy them, but she didn't touch them yet, because she needed them for the "Third Eye" project. However, once the project was done and she no longer needed them the evidence reached the right hands and Leiblich got wrecked.

    Web Comics 
  • In The B-Movie Comic, The Dr. Claw-style unseen villain rewards one of his mooks.
  • Tim the Gholem in Boomer Express, who tricked Vikki and worked with Kaminovo and Kyominara to awaken a Precursor is Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves by the two demons.
  • Happens a couple of times in Dragon Ball Multiverse. For example, Bojack does it to Bido, and Cell to his Cell Jr.
  • In Drowtales, Quain'tana gives Syphile a warning that she has "outlived your purpose [raising Ariel] and my patience" and effectively banishes her. The threat to kill her is not explicitly said (and considering the end result of her raising Ariel, it was more of a You Have Failed Me anyway), but it's definitely there. Later, she made good on it, though Syphile attacked her first rather than the other way around, and Quain actually displays some admiration that she had the guts to try and kill her before she gives her a quick death.
    • Snadhya'rune also threatens her daughter Kalki with this after her impulsive actions cost her a potentially valuable ally, telling her to "go, before I find I no longer need you." Like Quain, she makes good on the threat by the end of the chapter.
  • Black Mage from 8-Bit Theater was always a fan of Chaos and made no attempts to hide it. Once Chaos himself shows up, he makes it clear that he intends to slaughter BM as well as everything else.
  • Subverted in Errant Story, where it's the good guys (or at least the antihero) who invoke the trope (by name) to dispose of bandit Jim after Sarine coerces him into revealing the location of the bandit camp. Sarine herself is perfectly happy to have the guy go off to the Powers That Be and turn himself in, but Jon prefers a more ... direct ... approach.
  • In Everyday Heroes, Wrecking Paul is a serial killer preying on women, as well as a thief. When faced with Mr. Mighty instead of the female hero he was expecting, he turns on his accomplice. Apparently he goes through a lot of them.
  • Otacon from The Last Days of FOXHOUND uses Sniper Wolf as an intermediary to tell Liquid that he's finished modifying Metal Gear to fire nukes, stating that he suspects Liquid will adhere to this trope and kill him the moment he finds out. Obviously, it doesn't happen.
  • Once it becomes clear in The Letters Of The Devil that Chuck's reputation is irrevocably tarnished, Susan kills him while saying, "You're too broken."
  • In Mitadake Saga, Keiichi kills both Kazu and Yuki after they've finished all the testing of the Death Note and are unable to provide him with names respectively
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • When Redcloak informs Xykon that his ogre minions are asking for payment, Xykon kills them and zombifies them. "Just as strong, but they eat less!"
    • It's implied that Xykon is grooming Tsukiko to replace Redcloak since he's becoming increasingly unreliable.
    • Later on however Redcloak disposes of the wights by ordering them to kill (and eat) themselves in order to cover up the murder of Tsukiko. When he tells Xykon that he killed Tsukiko for being The Starscream, Xykon's response is "been there, done that, didn't really need her" (combined with some face saving).
    • An interesting example between General Tarquin and his son Nale. For a very long time, Tarquin was willing to overlook Nale's staggering incompetence and overall detrimental effect on his plans, simply because he was his son and he loved him. However, when Nale boasts about killing Malack and then rejects Tarquin's Last-Second Chance to reconcile, Tarquin stops treating him like his son and starts treating him as an asset. A pragmatically evil overlord like Tarquin only has one reaction to a useless asset.
    Tarquin: Is that really how you feel? [...] *sigh* As you wish, son.
  • Sequential Art:
    OZBASIC: You have served your purpose. Prepare for deathly laser death time..... WITH LASERS!
  • In Girl Genius during her escape from Sturmhalten Lucrezia abruptly wraps up Lady Vrin as a loose end because she can't afford to have Vrin captured by the Baron.

    Web Original 
  • 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.
  • Benjamin Palmer does this to Col. Keene near the end of Broken Saints, then has it done to him in turn by Lear Dunham.
  • 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.
  • 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 Rick Rolling them as punishment.
  • 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...
  • 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.
  • 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."
  • Coil attempts this in Worm, attempting 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.
  • While the Executive from Fallout Is Dragons has yet to do this onscreen, he's never been seen with the same partner twice....
  • 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.
  • 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".

    Western Animation 
  • Ben 10: Omniverse: Vilgax does this to Eon and his army of evil Bens by activating a Chronosapien Time Bomb that destroys them along with every other Ben Tennyson in the multiverse and their respective timelines (minus No Watch Ben).
  • DuckTales (1987): "Your usefulness is at an end!", said by El Capitan to Flinheart Glomgold at the end of "Wrongway in Ronguay", threatening him with a cannon. An unfazed Glomgold reverses the cannon back onto him however...with El Capitan doing likewise...and Glomgold again...leading to a No, You Have Outlived Your Usefulness argument until the cannon fires and thwarts them both.
  • Done by Tirek in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode Twilight's Kingdom Part 2 to Discord. Tirek doesn't kill Discord, but he does drain him of all his magic and power and all but quotes this trope.
  • In an episode of Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, Dr. Robotnik fires one of his minions via telephone because he "doesn't need them anymore".
  • Attempted by Long Feng in Avatar: The Last Airbender. After Azula helps him stage a coup against the Earth King, he orders his Dai Li agents to arrest her. However, Azula turns the tables by revealing that the Dai Li work for her now and, in fact, she has no further use for him.
    • Azula herself is subject to a non-fatal but still exceptionally cruel one of these in the finale, by her own father no less. He rewards her for all her loyalty by naming her his successor as Fire Lord, and then immediately crowns himself Phoenix King of the entire planet, rendering her new position totally powerless.
    • From Season 1 of the Sequel Series The Legend of Korra, Amon tells his flunky The Lieutenant this when the latter discovers his boss's secret - Amon himself is actually a bloodbender.
  • In the Batman Beyond episode "Disappearing Inque", Inque, a powerful shapeshifter whose body was falling apart, was freed from prison, given a place to hide out and helped to have her body's cohesion restored by Aaron Herbst, a slightly stalkerish guy who had worked at the prison. While he WAS annoying and probably creepy to be around it still doesn't forgive Inque taking his request, to be given powers similar to hers, and twisting it by only giving him half the abilities. In a rather nasty case of Body Horror, the guy now has a body similar to Inque in that its formless and maleable, but he lacks the ability to control it.
  • In the Musical Episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold, the Music Meister sings his brainwashed mindslaves into dancing to a fiery grave:
    And now that Batman's been delayed, your usefulness has passed
    A distraction is what I need, so kick into that blast!
  • NOS-4-A2 in an episode of Buzz Lightyear of Star Command makes it very clear that he's going to dispose of XL after he's no longer needed for his plan of conquering the galaxy. He even says these exact words to XL after he says he killed both Buzz Lightyear and XR. Unfortunately for NOS-4-A2, XL had a Heel–Face Turn and was lying about killing the space rangers.
    NOS-4-A2: Excellent. You've served me well. But You Have Outlived Your Usefulness.
    Buzz Lightyear: For evil, maybe. But not for good!
  • Danger Mouse: in "Where There's A Well, There's A Way," a hooded figure named Copper-Conk Cassidy trails DM and Penfold in their quest to find the mystic inkwell of Merlin the Magician. As they traverse the Cave of Coffins, Copper-Conk, with mallet in hand sneaks in and quips "Goodbye, Danger Mouse. You have served your purpose." Subverted immediately as he falls into a hole.
  • Typhonus lays it out fairly openly in Exo Squad when asked about Barca, a traitor Pirate helping the Neosapiens in return for Pirate dominion over Venus: "All of Venus Barca will ever see is a six-foot hole in the ground."
    • Ironically, Typhonus himself had been on the receiving end of such earlier (He got better because of Cloning Blues).
  • Xanatos tries this on the Gargoyles in the series' opening after his initial plan has succeeded. It doesn't work.
  • White Knight, a good guy (relatively), in the series Generator Rex implies to Agent Six that he will do this to Rex if the teenager refuses to obey orders.
  • Inch High, Private Eye: A scientist working for Mr. Finkerton developed a mechanical flea that could make detectives unnecessary. When it was stolen, Finkerton tasked Inch High with finding it, claiming Inch High would be fired if he failed and that, if he succeeded, he'd fired anyway because Finkerton would no longer need him.
  • In Jackie Chan Adventures, Shendu did this to Valmont and the Enforcers after getting all of his talismans. Later in season 2, he no longer needed Finn, Ratso, and Chow to carry the Pan'Ku box and sends them out (it is notable, though, that he lets them live at all, presumably because they actually did what they were supposed to do). Shendu tries to do this to Hak Foo, but Valmont wouldn't allow him. However, Shendu soon figured out he had invoked the trope too soon, as he still needed the box, even if just to delay his sibling's wrath.
  • In the Jonny Quest episode "The Riddle of the Gold", a villainous maharaja working with Dr. Zin on a fake gold mine makes the big mistake of mentioning that he will be sharing the ill-gotten gains with Zin. At that statement, Zin casually orders his lackey to implement Phase 2 of his plan. When the Maharajah asks for a light and asks what Zin is referring to, the lackey suddenly hits the Maharajah with a hidden spring-loaded poison needle in his lighter to kill him since he is not needed anymore.
  • In The Powerpuff Girls episode Aspirations, Sedusa ditches the Gangreen Gang after they steal for her the Egyptian artifacts that transformed her into a giant with snakes for hair (making her even closer to her mythological name Medusa) admitting that she never loved them. Naturally, this leads to her downfall.
  • In Justice League Unlimited Tala, following her failed revolt against Lex Luthor, realizes Lex was planning on using her to revive Brainiac all along, even though it would kill her. When it finally happens, Tala tampers with the process in a final act of defiance by reviving Darkseid instead. The evil alien invokes this trope by killing almost all of the remaining rogues for their efforts.
    Darkseid: It would appear that I have you to thank for my resurrection. Though your planet will suffer slowly, I grant you the mercy of a quick death.
  • Subverted in The Little Drummer Boy, Ben Haramad sells Aaron's camel after one of those used by the Three Kings falls under the load it's carrying. A disgusted Aaron rejects the final pay from that sale and storms off. When Ali tries to go after him, Ben Haramad tells him that Aaron is free to go because he had outlived his usefulness.
    Ben Haramad: Let him go. We're done with him.
  • Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies:
    • "A Mutt in a Rut": Elmer Fudd – in a rare cartoon where he stars as the hero, not the sympathetic villain – loves his dog, Rover, and has no plans to kill him. However, Rover – having just watched "The Dog-Lover's Hour" and host Carlton Canine speak about how some dog-owners shoot and kill their dogs once they've grown old – becomes paranoid after hearing Canine ominously editorialize, "Two go out ... but only one comes back!" Rover, annoyed at not always getting his way, is convinced Elmer has him marked for death but – since he is a dog – is unable to tell Elmer specifically what is bothering him, and is set off when Elmer suggests a good hunting trip will do him good. Rover, thinking he's saving himself, decides to kill Elmer off himself and makes several attempts to off his unwary master; however, Rover gets the worst end of things. Only at the end of the cartoon, when he sees Rover somehow limp to the studio to attack the host of "The Dog-Lover's Hour" does Elmer even start to get an idea of what is bothering his beloved pet; Rover had finally become convinced that his place in the Fudd household was secure after his last attempt went awry, and was now determined to make Canine pay for needlessly stressing him out.
  • In the one-hour special of Metalocalypse, the Metal-Masked Assassin does this to Magnus Hammersmith after the latter objects to the former's murder of the innocent Ishneafus Meaddle. Unusually, Magnus actually survives the attempt on his life, but swiftly realizes how horrible his complicity in the Assassin's other evil deeds was and commits suicide.
  • Hack and Slash of Reboot get this treatment during season 3, despite never having been useful in the first place. Megabyte is sick of their incompetence and sends them to the front lines solely to get rid of them.
  • Professor Pericles on Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated stoops this low in episode 50, where he orders the death of all the citizens in Crystal Cove once they have found the door to the Nibiru Entity's tomb.
    • He's on the receiving end shortly there after after freeing the Nibiru Entity from its prison. The Entity replies by possessing and killing him to take his body as its own. It then follows up by eating the rest of the the original Mystery Inc. alive.
  • Zig-zagged with Toffee from Star vs. the Forces of Evil. He doesn’t kill his henchmen, but he immediately stops caring about them once they cease to be relevant to his plans and is perfectly fine with letting them be killed by others at that point; when he finally gets Star to break her wand, he lets all of Ludo’s underlings die in the massive explosion that ensues because he won’t be needing them afterwards. Later, when he possesses Ludo himself, he tosses his avatar aside the second he’s able to regenerate his real body and just barely acknowledges Ludo’s existence.
  • In Superman: The Animated Series, Bruce Wayne narrowly avoids this trope with Brainiac thanks to Superman disguised as Batman. Bruno Mannheim didn't turn out so lucky with Darkseid.
    Mannheim: You promised you'd make me a king!
    Darkseid: And so you are: King of Fools.
  • Trigon does this to Slade during the fourth season finale of Teen Titans. Slade saw it coming, acquired a magical artifact that protected him from the worst of Trigon's wrath, and managed to survive. He spends the rest of the finale helping the Titans take Trigon down.
  • Total Drama
    • Chris McLean says the stock phrase verbatim to Owen in Season 4 (Total Drama Revenge of the Island) when the latter asks why he and the cast of the first three seasons aren't competing this time. Chris then sticks an explosive charge on Owen's face and detonates it.note 
    • Also in Season 4, Jo says a variation of the stock phrase about Lightning.
    • In the same season, this trope is inverted (in which the underling does this to their boss) when Cameron does this to Jo by blowing up her smoke machine and getting her voted out. He gets out of trouble by saying that he "learned from the best,".
  • In Transformers, Megatron's character uses this trope on a regular basis - the 'cons all know it and he has said it word for word on more than one occasion. He is so notorious for this that in G1, the Insecticons once rationalised he can't have been the one to betray them because he still had a use for them - they added right to his face that they wouldn't be surprised if he did so later, and he didn't bother to deny it.
  • This sums up Megatron's working relationship with Starscream in Transformers Animated from season 3 onward. For most of the season he was the only few individuals Megatron had at his disposal. However, as soon as he completes his plan to create living superweapons, he terminates their alliance.
  • In Transformers Prime, when Silas is critically injured, a team of MECH scientists saves him by connecting him to Breakdown's lifeless body. He thanks them for their dedication and service...then kills them and leaves to join with the Decepticons. Which makes it all the more ironic and satisfying, when in the same episode, the tactical advantage which Silas offered to Megatron goes up in smoke, and he is handed over to Knock-Out's dissection table for further study.
  • Subverted in the pilot episode "The Terrible Secret of Turtle Bay" of The Venture Bros.. The Big Bad is getting some acupuncture when his mook comes in and tells him that Doctor Venture is unveiling a new invention. Having received this information, the Big Bad grabs some acupuncture needles out of his body and throws them at the mook, seemingly killing him. As the Big Bad is reading the newspaper article about Doctor Venture, the mook speaks up and the Big Bad looks up from the paper to see the mook thanking him for curing his shoulder pain and also his smoking habit.
  • Winx Club season 2: Once Darkar has the four pieces of the codex and Dark Bloom at his side, he makes clear that he doesn't need the Trix anymore by tossing them into a black hole. That decision bites him in the ass not much later...
    • The Trix get hit with this from Valtor and Tritannus as well.
  • X-Men (1992)
    • Zaladane says exactly this to Sauron in the episode "Savage Land, Strange Heart Part 2." It doesn't work out well for her.
    • During the Apocalypse arc, the villain tries to do this to Magneto, but he sees through it, and with Mystique, had a back up plan just in case. "I never trusted you, Apocalypse. I'm not a fool."
  • In Young Justice, Kroloteans who are under The Lights employ are killed off by them, in favor of their new partner The Reach.
  • This is Alvin the Treacherous favourite line to use when his subordinates fail In Dragons: Riders of Berk.
  • Young Samson & Goliath episode "Moon Rendezvous". After Kunev Khan delivers the Graviton ship to the Moon Leader, the Leader tells Khan that he is no longer necessary to his plans and pulls out a weapon with the intent of murdering him. Luckily for Khan, Samson and Goliath show up to interfere.
  • The Perils of Penelope Pitstop finale "London Town Treachery" has the Ant Hill Mob turned into miniature Mr. Hydes after drinking a tea that the Hooded Claw spiked with a Jekyll-Hyde formula. The Mob puts Penelope in a Claw-type death trap and the Claw subsequently tells his henchman the Bully Brothers they won't be needed anymore. The Bully Brothers have no recourse but to rescue Penelope to save their jobs.
  • Implied in the SilverHawks pilot, where Mon*Star begs the prison guards to release him, promising them "wealth beyond wealth" in return. They simply state that they remember what happened to the last guy who fell for that.
  • Batman: The Animated Series has the Joker do this to Lex Luthor - granted, Luthor tried to kill him, but it's implied that Joker knew that would happen and had been planning this: this being stealing Luthor's prototype flying wing and blow up half of Metropolis.
  • In The Batman the Joker does this twice: first against some big game hunter who hired him to steal an endangered species of leopard for him to hunt. Joker brings him the leopards, receives a pair of hyenas in return, and then immediately gasses the hunter so he can use his range to hunt Batman. Later, he eventually does this to Wrath and Scorn, who fail to realize that just because they think they're helping criminals doesn't mean Joker wants them to do his job for him.

    Real Life 
  • As mentioned in Animal Farm, it's a case of Truth in Television when farm animals are no longer able to perform their intended function, they are killed as soon as possible to reduce costs on the industry to feed and shelter useless livestock.
    • Most infamously, old and ailing horses being sent to the glue factory.
    • Hens that are too old to lay eggs 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.
      • A similar fate befalls male dairy calves: as they will not produce milk, they are slaughtered for veal at as young as two weeks of age. As mother cows suckle their young for up to two years, the extra milk she produces is what we buy in groceries, and once she stops lactating, she is mated again only for her next calf to be killed so that the milk she produced for it can be harvested.
    • During the Middle Ages, hunting dogs were not regarded much, and when the poor old hounds could no longer work, they were drowned in lakes, burned alive in a furnace, or hanged and left as crow fodder.
  • 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 a 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" (like 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 (scientists discovered decades later) he was poisoned by one of his own inner circle, who all feared for their lives.
    • Subverted if recent discoveries are correct in their assumptions that the death of Stalin (who was poisoned good and proper) was instigated on the direct order of Winston Churchill.
  • Basically the philosophy behind the vitality curve, or "rank and yank" corporation HR policy. 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 that this system encourages employees to spend more time on interoffice politics than actually working.
  • The Great Politics Messup 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 happens quite frequently to the male after the act of mating.
    • Some argue that the instances of the female eating the male in arthropods are exaggerated, but there are plenty of instances of invertebrates where the very act of mating triggers the programmed death of the animal (or the laying of eggs in the females case). F.e. Octopi.
      • Although that is arguably more a case of "I have outlived my own usefulness".
    • Taken to an extreme with the male anglerfish, who latches onto his mate and gradually degenerates into a mere sperm-producing appendage.
  • Margaret Thatcher was the longest serving Tory Prime Minister of the 20th century, and one of the most successful politicians of all time. She led her party to three consecutive landslide victories, broke the back of the labour movement and the Labour Party, and permanently shifted British politics to the right. But when she became an electoral liability, the Tory party had nothing for her but this.
    • This is pretty damn common in politics in general. If someone is not leaving an office of their own volition (i.e. retirement) or due to term limits, 9 times out of 10, they're being forced out by other people, which could be either the voters or party higher-ups.
  • 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.
    • Another prominent Nazi-example: 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 caused a lot support to flow from the gay community, in the form of recruits (most of the SA) and money. Then the Nazi party grew big enough where the more mainstream homophobic crowd was promising them greater money and even more men. So the Nazi party simply switched its policy to create a world where homosexuality would be eliminated rather than tolerated, which was a convenient excuse to purge the SA. The Nazis then of course brutally perused and rounded of homosexuals, Some of which they found by simply going down the party's membership records.
      • 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 would wake 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-up 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.
    • Lest we forget that Nazi Germany did this to their own people too. The 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". 70,273 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 with Boxing Helena after she backed out of the project and 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.
  • 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 in the Napoleonic period (1801 & 1807) to keep the Danish Navy out of Napoleon's hands.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 to Soviet refugees in Sweden. As Sweden refused to co-operate, Wallenberg was executed.
  • 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.
  • 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.)

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