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Playing With / A Fistful of Rehashes

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Basic Trope: A character walks into a town with two rival factions, plays them both for suckers, and eliminates them when the fighting weakens them. Sometimes at a cost for said character, sometimes with plenty of gain. Moral reasons vary.

  • Straight: Read "Basic Trope".
  • Exaggerated: One man playing both sides triggers a barrage of Gambit Pileup, Man Behind the Man, I Know You Know I Know, I Am Not Left-Handed, Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot and Contrived Coincidence Reveals that are just nuts.
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  • Downplayed: The war is already on its dying embers when the characters arrive. All that is left is (by all means and purposes) the clean-up.
  • Justified: The character walking into town has a beef with both sides.
  • Inverted: Both sides join forces to take out someone too badass for one side to defeat. Or they join forces to take over the town-and thus the hero (or heroes) must fight the newly-allied bad guy army.
  • Subverted: The character picks up one side to support and sticks to it, for whichever reason he prefers.
  • Double Subverted: Everyone Has Standards, even the most loyal and vile of mercs. Once both sides have done lots of on-screen dog kicking, they will probably cross whatever the protagonist deems as the line, making him choose to Kill 'Em All. Or maybe he decides to kill them all because they're not evil enough for him.
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  • Parodied: The character which walks into town is The Fool or otherwise Mistaken for Badass and his bumbling just triggers (or exacerbates) a chain reaction that was already set in place to go.
  • Zig Zagged: The character wants nothing to do with either side, so he decides to try and leave. Unfortunately, his actions have attracted the attention of the factions, and so they give him An Offer You Can't Refuse. But one has a stronger offer than the other, and so is taken by the protagonist, who tries to drive both factions to kill each other-only that the leaders are pretty smart and take steps to prevent this... only for the protagonist to showcase that he's the spy for The Magnificent Seven Samurai or the local Heroes "R" Us, and the intelligence he gets is enough for this third faction to find a weak enough spot to shake the factions' convictions, and the factions declare Enemy Mine and go after this new faction... only to be backstabbed by the protagonist, who has become Beneath Suspicion by the enemies becoming targets to Death by Genre Savviness... and the Heroes "R" Us ends up being Evil All Along, so the protagonist must do what he can to rally the other factions and thus ensure a perfect mutual kill, all the while trying to run for it because things are just becoming too crazy...
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  • Averted: Character arrives to town, and simply proceeds to kickboth sides' asses.
  • Enforced: The writer is a fan of Yojimbo, so he decided to pay Homage to the story.... even if it involves pulling a lot of things out of his ass, giving the character no other choice but to fight both sides.
  • Lampshaded: ???
  • Invoked: The character is hired by a third party to eliminate the other two. Or he decides to do it for kicks.
  • Exploited: Both sides have something that the characters want. Neither of them will give that up willingly, and so the spy game begins.
  • Defied: Either a smart character will immediately choose a side and stick to it upon arrival, try to get the hell out of Dodge first chance he gets, or one (or both) sides will immediately eliminate anybody who arrives to town that looks even remotely like a threat.
  • Discussed: "Ok, so Jack walks into town and he's a loner badass, so there is no way he's going to be under anybody's employ unless he's looking for a way to stab them in the back... as far as I can see, we can make it so these guys deserve it."
  • Conversed: ???
  • Deconstructed:
  • Reconstructed:
  • Played For Laughs: The "war" is about the Serious Business du jour. One side supports Pokemon, one side supports Digimon, and the man Playing Both Sides is not some kind of badass expert manipulator, but that one poor bastard who happens to like both shows.
  • Played For Drama: The protagonist manages to overthrow the bosses, but the collateral damage is somehow excessive. Likewise one side could be shown as being a (maybe slightly) lighter side and their loss is understandably heartbreaking to watch.
  • Played For Horror: The Mob War has no holds barred, and and nothing is sacred — there are no non-combatants, there is no truce, there is no care for collateral damage, and the only kind of victory that will be accepted is total annihilation. The city soon is burning and massacres are constant.

Back to A Fistful of Rehashes, Yojimbo; there's two bosses there, and when there are two, then I'd say that there is one too many!
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