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You know, I always thought of us as a sort of evil family.—Dr. Drakken, Kim Possible
The world is divided into two camps: good and evil. Of course, all the good guys work together, but what do the evil guys do? Well, they also work together, of course! Because if you are not good, you must be evil, and evil is one big happy family. Evil beings understand each other, and they all have the same goal in mind: to destroy Team Good! So it's only natural for them to sing together in perfect harmony. Otherwise you'd have an Enemy Civil War, and that's no fun at all (for the bad guys, anyway).
This trope could include instances where either evil or good beings mistakenly think evil is one big happy family.
Common in Video Games in general, where it tends to be all the enemies in the room versus you. Often it's just that you're dealing with a single enemy faction, but it's also common for random monsters in the field to seemingly target the player exclusively.
Compare with Black and White Morality, Villain Team-Up. When Evil is one big not-so-happy family, it creates Teeth-Clenched Teamwork or Right Hand Versus Left Hand. The total opposite is Evil vs. Evil.
Since most works other than video games aren't usually this naïve, there's no need to list straightforward aversions. If evil characters are just working together because they specifically belong to the same faction or have a common goal (beyond being evil), that's not this. Also doesn't mean actual families that are evil, or some specific evil characters being like a family to each other.
Anime & Manga
- Star Blazers/Space Battleship Yamato has an interesting subversion in the second season: Zordar and Desslok understand each other, so Comet Empire generals and Invidia are just irritable when both Zordar and Desslok are around. When they're behind Zordar's back, they start acting like playground bullies and finally throw Desslok in prison.
- The Warhammer and Warhammer 40000-based board games Hero Quest and Space Crusade. In both cases, the semi-GM-like evil-side-player plays "Chaos", but commands a combination of orcs and goblins, undead and Chaos forces in the first and Orks, Necrons, Tyranids and Chaos Space Marines in the second. In the original wargames, these are all mutually hostile factions.
Comics -- Books
- The Secret Six (or at least Catman) believe Evil Is One Big Happy Family in the DC Universe... and it's a family they don't want any part of. They see themselves (or at least Catman does) as occupying a middle ground, rejecting both the Secret Society of Super-Villains and the Justice League of America. Of course, they're hardly the only villains to be on the outs with the Society....
- In Charmed Episode 9 season 4 A Muse to My Ears, two warlocks harass a shape-shifting demon.
Demon: Back off; we are on the same side.
- Of course, they kill him anyway to take his power, but that is beside the point.
- Lampshaded in Law and Order SVU by Chief Cragen: "That's why the criminals get away, they work together, and we don't."
- This trope is what the Master is constantly going for in the first season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
- Star Trek Deep Space Nine: Weyoun quotes it almost word for word in "The changing face of evil". Subverted since Damar starts to organize his betrayal in this very episode.
Films -- Live-Action
- In Star Trek VI the Undiscovered Country, it turns out that elements from both the Klingon government and Starfleet are working together to destroy the peace process between their nations. They are, in essence, working together so they can get back to kicking the crap out of each other.
- Slacktivist has argued that this is part of the worldview of the Left Behind series, although perhaps "evil" should be substituted with "everyone who is not part of the Rapture-able Christians". For example, the world's Hindus, Muslims and Catholics show little opposition to an enforced worldwide pantheistic/polytheitic religion, since that's the sort of thing the authors believe liberals would like, and if you're not a member if the correct Christian sect, you're some kind of liberal.The Insane Troll Logic behind this being is that every false religion were originally created and are maintained by the Devil to serve his purposes, so if the Devil decides to merge them all together into a global religion, all their adherents shouldn't have any problem with it.
- Oy gevalt.
- In Paradise Lost, Milton suggests that this is actually something the devils do better than humans, even though humans have the potential for good:
O shame to men! Devil with devil damned
Firm concord holds, men only disagree
Of creatures rational, though under hope
Of heavenly grace: and God proclaiming peace,
Yet live in hatred, enmity, and strife
Among themselves, and levy cruel wars,
Wasting the earth, each other to destroy...
- In The Stand, Randall Flagg apparently has a unique ability (taken to an extreme and inexplicable degree in the larger story) to make "madmen" speak calmly and agree upon their course.
- Old-time (pre 1990ish) Professional Wrestling was like this. All the faces liked each other and worked for the common good, and all the heels at least tolerated each other and worked for the common... bad(?). Until someone inevitably did a Face Heel Turn or Heel Face Turn, of course; then all the heels liked the former face or the faces liked the former heel, as the case may be.
- This was one of the first tropes to be phased out as part of WWF's more realistic, Darker and Edgier reinvention in the late 90s, mainly because it really didn't make sense for, say, a Wild Samoan to be allied with an evil tax accountant against cowboys teamed with bikers.
- For whatever reason, a group of heels is infinitely more likely to form a Power Stable like the Corporation, the New World Order, Evolution, the Main Event Mafia, or The Nexus than a group of faces. Usually, a heel stable is (at their start) is a well-oiled machine while the faces they fight just barely get along. Members of the stable will often go to extreme lengths to help their mates (such as run-ins) in comparison to their rivals. While a heel stable never lasts, a powerful one may take several months or even a couple years before they truly crack apart.
- The main reason probably being that, in (ostensibly) a sport based primarily around one-on-one competitions, assistance from allies is often cheating; naturally, this bothers heels less than (traditional) faces.
- It's one of common bad styles in Tabletop RPG that use Character Alignment. Gave birth to "Evil Champion" player archetype.
- The Dungeon Master's Guide for Third Edition Dungeons and Dragons cautions against this kind of thing in its advice about villains in chapter 5, under "Handling NPCs". "Monolithic evil is unrealistic," because "the goals of one selfish, destructive creature by definition conflict with the goals of other selfish, destructive creatures."
- And it's one of few things that can make good GMs boast their exploration of GM Cruelty Potential.
- While not always evil, per se, the monsters in the countryside of Final Fantasy XII are, despite being feral beasts, very very capable of teamwork. When they're of the same species, like Wolves, that's fair enough. When it's a Wolf, a Crocodile, and a T-Rex simultaneously, it sticks out.
- Subverted in the last dungeon of the first chapter of Neverwinter Nights 2. The Warlock and his demon army are battling against the Githyanki and against you as you wander through the caves.
- Subverted on a few occasions in The Lord of the Rings Online.
- In the Moria expansion, while you won't see any enemies fighting each other, paying attention to the quest descriptions will show that there's no happy family here. The Moria orcs are ruled by Mazog, but they are by no means the only orcs in Moria. Sauron has sent a number of orcs from Mordor there, and Saruman has sent emissaries to Moria himself, both of them trying to bring the local orcs under their command. A number of questlines deals with this, where your character is tasked with doing things that will make the orcs of the different factions fight each other, instead of joining forces.
- Another example occurs in Goblin-Town. Orc-emissaries from Angmar are there to suggest an alliance between Angmar and the goblins of the Misty Mountains. Their offer is turned down in a homage to 300.
Bhoghad, Emissary to Goblin-town: Goblin, this talk is foolish. It is pointless. We are the army of Angmar. To defy our might and our strength is... madness!
Ashûrz the Great Goblin: Madness? Madness? You fool! This is Goblin-town!
- Both played straight and averted in City of Heroes. There's quite a few places where you can see villain NPCs of different factions fighting each other, sometimes to the "death"... But if you try to jump in, all of them will gang up on you.
- Ditto for City of Villains. About half the missions you get will have you beating up other villains, with the remainder divided between beating up heroes and/or working for other villains.
- Likewise is Dissidia Final Fantasy, in which all of the heroes and all of the villains are aligned into two factions. Though, while they officially all belong to Chaos, there are plenty of sub-factions and personal plots involved.
- Averted in Halo 2. Civil war has broken out between the Elites and the Brutes and they're happily tearing each other apart even as they try to kill you. In the last part of one level, Cortana even encourages you to hang back and let them finish each other off.
- Also zig-zagged in Halo 2, as on the higher difficulty settings the Elites and Brutes will actually stop fighting each other in order to try to kill you.
- In Warcraft III, we have that neutral hostile is one happy family. All different creep races may work together depending on the map. Although some pairings made some sense, like Ogres and Trolls (a Call Back to Warcraft2). Other pairings were not so logical, like usually placing trolls to support Magnataurs or golems.
- Averted in Siren 2, where the Shibito and Yambito often attack each other and prioritize doing so over attacking humans. There are several levels where you can take advantage of this to sneak past enemies.
- Averted in Metroid Prime 2: Echoes. Scanning various Space Pirate terminals reveals that the Space Pirates are having a hell of a time trying to fend off both Ing attacks and Dark Samus.
- Dark Samus is also seen at one point hanging back to allow Ing to attack Samus, and at another mercilessly blasting her way through Ing standing between her and Phazon.
- Semi-forced in the Warhammer Online MMO. Granted, it's not unheard of for the forces of Chaos to use the Orks as pawns, or the Dark Eldar to play everyone else for fools, or the Orks to join up with either side for the chance at a good fight; it's just extremely unusual for any of those factions to get along with itself long enough to form a grand scheme, let alone all three forming a coherent army big enough to get the humans, dwarfs and high elves to get together and form a massive alliance. Although explained away as basically a Gambit Pileup, it's pretty much understood that a "good versus evil" scheme is easier to implement than a "humans, dwarfs and elves only kinda-fighting each other versus Chaos versus Dark Elves versus Orks versus all the NPC things".
- Averted in Doom. It only takes one or two stray shots to get a roomful of enemies (of different types, though bullets are fair game) to kill each other instead of you. In-universe, Cacodemons and Barons of Hell hate each other so much that they turn each other into bloody decor. Cacodemons go so far as to crucify Barons of Hell even though they don't have hands.
- Averted in Iji, where the two alien factions actually prioritize killing each other above killing the player.
- Averted in Blue Dragon. Putting certain enemies together in a fight will result in a Monster Battle, where the enemies will attack and kill each other before turning on you.
- The Order of the Stick: The three fiends name the trope because they aren't at all inclined to work with Xykon -- even though, as embodiments and champions of evil, fiends actually have a reason to want evil itself to win, whereas most evil characters simply want to advance their own ends by evil means. This both defies the trope and, in a way, plays it straight: the species of fiends are divided by war, but these three are working together (and almost seem to like each other) in spite of this this, because they understand how much the war holds them back, and at the same time they are not going to help other evil guys further than what is useful for them.
- The PVCC of Sonichu infamy functions as this, in their never-ending quest to keep Chris from getting laid.
- Abyssals from Bibliography instinctively work together even if their pre-descend selves were enemies.
- This was common trope during the toy line-promoting cartoons of the 1980s, such as He Man and The Masters of The Universe and G.I. Joe. This was generally because the majority of the villains were all henchmen of a single Big Bad or part of an organization.
- This is also a very common trope on shows with a number of recurring Villains-of-the-Week; the first season or two has some bad guys with crappy schemes that get beaten by five spunky multi-ethnic teenagers and their Deus Ex Machina, so the bad guys figure they can pool their resources, usually in a season finale. Usually they will be under the leadership of whichever baddie is the most conniving; occasionally a new extra-powerful villain will show up to unite them all, like on Captain Planet and the Planeteers, when Zarm the God of war, played by Malcolm McDowell (who was later replaced by Sting) got the pig-guy and the radioactive guy in the bermuda shorts and the chick with her face burned off and everybody became One Big Happy Family. Usually.
- Xiaolin Showdown features some problems with the alliance between Chase Young and Wuya (namely, she has Chronic Backstabbing Disorder), but by the end of the third season, they've decided to stop arguing and stay together for the sake of Evil. Parents of the year, they're not.
- Happened once in Swat Kats. After realizing that their goals are pretty much the same, Evil Overlord Dark Kat and Mad Scientist Doctor Viper decide that they should work together, and even decide to recruit the Mange couple. Once the heroes are caught however, they turn on each other because they can't decide what to name the city after they take it over.
- Played with in Kim Possible, mostly centring around Doctor Drakken, the resident loser Mad Scientist. Super-villainy itself is treated as an entire sub-culture with its own clubs, magazines, and Hench Co. Industries, a private enterprise supplying henchmen and gadgets for a price. Drakken, being an Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain whose schemes always fail, is usually too poor afford that kind of stuff, so he ends up stealing from Hench Co. and other villains, notably his Always Someone Better rival Professor Dementor, though even then in their very last scene they are actually having coffee together. Thats not to mention the villains who actually are family: the Senior's are a father-and-son villainous duo, and Drakken himself is a cousin of evil mechanic Motor Ed, not to mention in the finale he finally ends up hooking up with Shego. They aren't the only evil couple to show up either.
- An article in The Onion from the early months of the Iraq War takes this to an extreme: "Tensions Mount Between U.S, Them"..
- Conspiracy Theories tend to assume this trope is true, namely that the leaders of The Government and Big Business are all allies. Of course they are sometimes, but conspiracy theorists make the mistake of thinking they are all allied together into some kind of secret pact, as though politicians weren't in competition with other politicians and business leaders weren't in competition with other business leaders. And when they do make alliances, they tend to be public knowledge.
- From the viewpoint of anti-Communists, of course the USSR and Red China were working together on everything to destroy freedom, justice and the American way. Long after the "split" of 1960 when the Soviets withdrew all of their personnel from China (they didn't get along too well before then either), anti-Communists still spoke of the "Sino-Soviet Bloc".
- ↑ Admittedly, this means genestealers that appear semi-randomly rather than being placed along with the other "Chaos" troops at will, so even though they are controlled by the same player, there's some implication they're working on their own.