Utopia Justifies the Means

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Apparently, the "good of humanity" involves killing a small boy.

I'll give you that. Killing off five billion people did wonders for most of our social problems.

Dave, Civil Protection, on The Combine's invasion of Earth.

It's a place built out of dreams and starlight; the name "Utopia" is a somewhat poignant pun by its author, blending the Greek words for Good Place (eutopia) and "No Place" (outopia), and despite (or perhaps because of) its unattainable nature, it has endured in myth and dreams since.

While dreaming about what it would be like is harmless (like how topless glamour model volleyball would be the national sport, bureaucrats would work recycling paper, there's No Poverty and ice cream is just as delicious with none of the calories...mmmm...), it's just a dream based on nothing more solid than wishful thinking. For the Fallen Hero, Knight Templar, Dark Messiah, Well-Intentioned Extremist, and other villains, however, that's not the case.

This evil architect plans to use the heart of an orphan or an Artifact of Doom, steal the Cosmic Keystone, or unleash a world ending war or plague to destroy all resistance and bring about his own idea of Utopia. The evil architect is probably operating under the assumption that this wonderful new world has him at the top, free to exert a benevolent or iron-fisted regime as he will. Using logic that would make Machiavelli blush, they reason that any and every sacrifice is worth making for this greater good, and the pursuit of this ideal puts the Well Intentioned in Well-Intentioned Extremist. A great deal of drama can be derived from this—are they willing to kill a friend for it? Will they put their Visionary Villain where their mouth is and kill themselves if need be, or is there a line even they will not cross? Will they even admit that some of the things they do are Dirty Business? Some are able to inspire incredible devotion in their followers precisely because their vision and conviction is such that they know they won't live to see the paradise they plan to bring about, or don't deserve to.

When it comes to different kinds of extremists, a Totalitarian Utilitarian is far more likely to think that Utopia Justifies the Means, while a Principles Zealot is more likely to believe that Utopia Justifies Nothing.

This can be seen as a subversion of myths where the Apocalypse will bring about paradise. Heroes will be faced with the conundrum that, while this plan can very well work, and the world may certainly be going to pot like the villain says, is it worth sacrificing billions? In more morally ambiguous situations, the "means" might not be catastrophically destructive, all it takes is a "small", inconsequential sacrifice to bring about utopia. Say, selling every third generation to aliens, the daily ritual slaughter of a dozen people, or the ever popular Lotus Eater Machine on a planetary scale. If it guarantees the happiness of billions, isn't it worth it? The Heroes invariably decide that genocide is not the answer, and it's better to fix what you have than trash it. Expect the villain to quote Nietzche at them over their decision.

If they succeed, the result is usually a World Half Empty or a Villain World. This is also often used as a justification for why Reed Richards Is Useless, since the temptation to go all out in fixing the world may see them careering right down this path.

Often utilizes some form of Aesoptinum, generally with the message "Peace and harmony isn't worth getting rid of The Evils of Free Will".

Curiously, the first example of a Utopia in recorded literature -- Plato's Republic—is an example of this trope (possibly) played absolutely straight and not as means for the opposite Aesop. Plato argues that the establishment and survival of the perfect state requires a "noble lie" that the citizens must be taught to induce them to love the state unconditionally.

Contrast Dystopia Justifies the Means, when the villain actively seeks to create a Crapsack World. See also Despotism Justifies the Means, where they will create or maintain either simply to remain in power.

Some attempts to bring about utopia at any cost include:

Anime and Manga

  • Kaede Kunikida, Momiji's twin sister, from Blue Seed. Okay, returning the Japan to its natural -- green and unpolluted -- state sounds like a good idea. Getting rid of wars and hatred is even better. The way to achieve these goals? Basically, turning people into plants. Thankfully, Momiji manages to convince Kaede that hope still exists in this world, and that it's something worth sacrificing one's life for.
  • In a World where protagonists and antagonists alike are Well-Intentioned Extremist, and the stakes are national or global-scale, Code Geass is all about this trope. Mileage most definitely varies on whether or not the characters are villains or heroes, but ultimately, each sought a noble cause and decided that it was worth the lives and deaths of many.
  • Light Yagami, aka "Kira", in Death Note, who wants to create a world without crime or sin, with him as its god. Notable in that he's actually the main character.
    • One of the cool things about Death Note is that it's extremely difficult to decide who to root for. Light and L are both justice, in their own creepy ways.
    • Except when it becomes clear that Light is becoming more and more and more unhinged. From murdering his 'girlfriend' in the worst way possible, to planning on killing people for being lazy, it becomes clear that he's, just as L's replacement Near said, a Crazy Serial Killer.
  • You could make a drinking game out of how many times Lucemon from Digimon Frontier states that he wishes to create a utopia through the destruction of both the digital and the real worlds.
    • Yggdrasil does that, too.
  • Director Kakuzawa from Elfen Lied wants to destroy the human race and produce more Diclonii using Lucy, the only fertile female Diclonus, to replace them. He doesn't want to do this for any moral reason, though, but only so that in 100 or 200 years, he can be worshiped as the god of the new species.
  • The Z-Master from GaoGaiGar wanted to save people from the despair and sadness of reality by mechanizing the universe, eliminating negative emotion (and every other emotion at the same time).
  • The Ultimate Gundam from G Gundam wanted to kill all of humanity. It's ultimate goal? Fixing the damage caused to the Earth by all the Gundam Fights, which, incidentally, was caused by humans.
    • Also, in Gundam Seed Destiny, Gilbert Durandal's plan was to create a society completely ruled by genetic determinism, where everyone would be forced to the endeavors for which he/she was genetically apt at. And if someone has to be sacrificed and some countries have to be destroyed with a Wave Motion Gun...well, it's sad but necessary to create a world without war and without pain. Fan opinions remain divided on whether he was in the right or not.
      • The Chairman's Dragon, Rey Za Burrel, has this same mindset, and follows the Chairman because he believes that he will usher in the utopia.
      • Of course, genetic determinism in a world where a good chunk of the population are genetically-enhanced humans really means that the Coordinators are genetically-inclined towards having the good jobs (i.e. those requiring advanced skills/reflexes/intelligence like mobile suit pilots or technicians) and normal humans are more genetically-inclined to manual labor. Some utopia.
      • It was case of communistic/socialistic thinking. We determine what you can do by your genes, we educate you on how to use your talents, and we give you jobs that perfectly suit you, so the whole society can run perfectly, and that's better for you than the broken system where no one knows what they are supposed to do and waste their potential, or even doesn't have anything to do. In basic theory, it isn't evil, and is only wrong in practice because, as side effect, it would eliminate people's initiative to improve themselves and give opportunity to corruption by falsifying test results, which would, in the end, break the system.
      • It's the "determine what you can do by your genes" part that's the whole problem; Coordinators by default are going to be better-suited for high-paying jobs that require advanced technical skills because their genetic enhancements make them better-suited for those positions than ordinary humans. The system is inherently skewed in favor of those with genetic enhancements.
      • The writers probably wanted to show that the main flaw of such a society would be a loss of freedom, thus making a dilemma of freedom vs. peace.
  • The ultimate goal of the Claw in Gun X Sword is the "Time of Happiness", where he will use Saudade to overwrite the minds of all living creatures with copies of his own; with all of humanity in utter agreement, war and strife will vanish. The process will kill him, but as he's dying of a terminal disease anyway, he sees it as a Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Raoh in Fist of the North Star goes by this trope, so much so that he and Kenshiro stop fighting when it looks like both of them will die, acknowledging that the world is better off if either of them live than both of them die. This doesn't stop them from fighting to the death later, though.
    • Raoh is a special case though, as he is actually kinda liked by the people for the fact that he conquers, but doesn't destroy. The fact that he actually loves and protects subjects loyal to him like a father would his children really helps.
    • Shin outright states that he plans to achieve utopia through slave labor and murderous henchmen.
  • This is Enrico Pucci's motivation in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure Part 6, Stone Ocean. Once he achieves the Stairway to Heaven ability, he speeds up time to the point where the universe is destroyed and remade, and everyone who lived in the past universe would cross over to the new universe with their old memories intact -- Pucci's theory being that, since all of mankind has experienced the entirety of history, there will no longer be any reason for war or suffering. While he succeeds in killing off the main heroes and retconning the entire series, he isn't quite able to fully realize his vision, as he stopped the universal cycle just short of a full revolution in order to try and finish off Emporio Alnino. He fails spectacularly.
  • SEARRS in My-HiME was willing to level down Fuka Academy and kill all the HiME to win the HiME carnival and achieve the "Golden Millennium". All right, it's one lousy school, who cares about that? (Not to mention that Alyssa was "Valkyrie No. 143" and the only success in what was presumably a long series of People Jars. What happened to her failed predecessors is left to the viewers' imagination.)
  • In the Naruto movie Legend of the Stone of Gelel, Master Haido frequently speaks of creating a Utopia without war. In facts, he speaks of it frequently enough to make the audience suspicious; in the end, it turns out that Haido is a power hungry Big Bad, and his talk of peace was just a smokescreen.
    • In the actual manga, Pain plans to end all war. He wants to achieve this by harnessing the power of the tailed beasts to make a weapon of mass destruction that could destroy an entire country. If a war was started with one side lacking ninja, they would turn to Akatsuki, who would wipe out the entire opposing nation. After this, most countries would be too scared to start a war.
      • It's also a partial subversion: Pain knows that people will eventually forget about all that and just go back to fighting. Planning to leave it for future generations, Pain believes that the weapon will allow future civilizations to experience the terror of destruction themselves and revert to peace for short periods before doing it all over again.
      • And played straight again with "The Moon's Eye Plan" and Mugen Tsukiyomi, which is then promptly subverted when Madara admits that he doesn't care about peace or utopia; he just wants to control everyone because he can.
    • Itachi may or may not believe this. Considering what he went through to stop a war, it's more than likely.
      • Not really. Itachi didn't believe that what he did would lead to any sort of utopia or permanent peace, he simply did it because he saw no other way to prevent the war that was about to happen. He did it for pragmatic rather than idealistic reasons.
      • Danzo believes in peace through power and, in the interest of his ideal world, is willing to kill anyone who represents a threat to his goals, though he is unusually reasonable about who to kill, avoiding threatening major rivals to his power (the Third Hokage, Tsunade, Kakashi) if their deaths would turn the public against him.
  • SEELE's ultimate goal in Neon Genesis Evangelion is the Instrumentality Project, which will destroy the distinction between individual humans, but leave humanity around, so no one will ever be hurt and alone again. And if some kids need to be tortured, a few cities destroyed, and a lot of soldiers die to make it happen, well it's just people's lives, not anything important.
    • Actually, that statement may be unironically accurate, considering that the souls of the recently dead were included in Instrumentality, nothing they did in Eo E technically harmed anyone in any way that kept them from their utopia. Though it was vague, so everything they did before then may still fit.
      • The deaths leading up to Instrumentality fall under this. Examples of this include: Kaji, an army or two against the Angels, Tokyo-2 via Jet Alone (if Akagi hadn't intervened), and over 50% of the world's population in Second Impact?
  • Subverted in One Piece, where Sir Crocodile stages a massive coup against the throne of Alabasta to seemingly create a utopia for him and Baroque Works; however, the only reason he wants anything to do with the sand kingdom is because of a massive battleship called Pluton with the power to wipe out an entire island, so he can establish the greatest military force the world has ever known, which could even rival the World Government.
  • The real Big Bad of ROD the TV - namely, Joker and the British Library.
    • Which is kind of stupid when you consider that their plan is to resurrect their leader, who hadn't been able to (and can't even be proven to have seriously even tried to) create a peaceful world in his first lifetime, so why did they think he'd do better the second time around?
  • Knives, the Big Bad of Trigun, might as well be the textbook example of this. His motto in the anime was "kill the spiders to save the butterflies". Oh, and all human beings are spiders; only he and his brother count as butterflies. Lampshaded in his vociferations of "WE WILL HAVE. OUR. EDEN!".
    • He gets much more backstory and Character Development in the manga and he has more interesting and 'altruistic' motivations - namely, freeing his whole species. It's just a bit unfortunate that he does so by attempting genocide on the whole human race, which makes him both a kind of Spartacus figure on steroids and a crystal-clear Hitler figure with much more Aryanism and sociopathy than the original...which serves to remind us that human conflicts get polarized more often than not and that one side's 'terrorists' are often the other side's 'freedom fighters'.
      • Also note that, in the anime, he doesn't seem to have second thoughts about getting the plant on Sensei's ship killed (by his human evil minions!!), while in the manga, he is tormented by guilt at killing many plants, as well in the Big Fall.
  • The Dragons in X 1999.
  • A few cult leaders in Yu-Gi-Oh!.
    • First, there was Dartz in the original series: an immortal king from Atlantis powered by the Orichalcos God (Great Leviathan in the English dub), who required souls stolen in a children's card game in order to gain enough power to cleanse the world of evil. He gained his three primary followers by manipulating their lives in order to orchestrate tragedies that would drive them toward the same vengeful misanthropy as himself and sign up with his cause.
    • Second, there was Takuma Saiou (Sartorius in the dub) in GX, a partial Expy of Dartz. Saiou was a psychic who was visited by an alien entity called the Light of Ruin (Light of Destruction in the dub), that caused his personality to split in two, one a Dark Messiah bent on creating a utopia by combining the Light's innate power with an orbital laser cannon in order to literally reshape the planet...the other, somehow, a remnant of the idealistic person he used to be before the Light of Ruin visited him and set him on the path of laser forged utopia. Saiou would recruit his followers either by himself or by a cultist defeating someone in a card game, which would cause them to "see the light" and sign up.
    • Amon Garam also attempts this in GX, willingly sacrificing his girlfriend to wield the power of Exodia and to create a utopia. This doesn't work out.
    • And Rex Godwin from 5D's has arguably achieved this goal already by forcing all uncouth individuals to live in a slum under Domino City.
  • Ergo Proxy: in the beginning, it's the oppression of the AutoReivs, Vincent, and the people who live outside the dome. In the end, it's The Proxy Project: The Creators' plan to have the Proxies clean up Earth's atmosphere, kill the "humans" left on Earth, and destroy the domes, while they die in Earth's cleaned up atmosphere so The Creators can have a healthy Earth all to themselves.
  • In the Yellow arc of the Pokémon Special manga, Lance wants to Kill All Humans to create the perfect world for Pokemon.
  • Brutally subverted in Mobile Suit Gundam 00: the actions of Celestial Being result in the formation of a One World Order, just as they'd hoped... but the Earth Sphere Federation turns out to be just as violent and oppressive as its predecessors.
  • In Saint Beast, Zeus intends for heaven to have no sin and he wants to be worshipped by humans and angels alike, so he uses murder and assassination to achieve this ideal.
  • The villains of Mobile Suit Gundam AGE, Vagan, can have their motivation summed up as this. They seek to seize Earth for themselves and turn it into an Eden...by massacring the current Earth Federation.

Comic Books

  • We are The Authority. Behave.
  • Ra's al Ghul and the Order of St. Dumas in the various Batman series.
  • The Myth Arc of Joe Kelly's Deadpool run involved the main character—a Screwy Squirrel Anti-Hero—finding out that he was the "Mithras", prophesised to protect a being called "The Messiah", who would bring peace and prosperity to the world, from "Tiamat", who would destroy it. However, when said Messiah showed up, it turned out to be a being that froze everyone in the world in blissful mindlessness. Deadpool had to decide whether or not to fulfill his destiny and prevent all suffering at the price of free will. In the end, he decided to Screw Destiny and destroy the Messiah himself.
  • Some comics suggest (and, in at least one case, demonstrate) that allowing Doctor Doom to conquer the Earth will result in a utopia. Of course, Doom's a despot and a tyrant at the best of times, and another consequence of Dr. Doom taking over the Earth is the complete eradication of any kind of free will and immediate and total subservience to Doom's wishes, so this may not be as great as it seems.
  • Rasputin in Hellboy. Mike Mignola even said that, as a writer, he can't fathom writing someone inherently evil, so he gave Rasputin an ultimately good goal that would nonetheless bring about the end of the world.
  • In Runaways, the Knight Templar Parents are trying to achieve paradise for their children. Not children as in the entire next generation of humanity—they'll kill everyone to achieve paradise for the six children they have between them.
  • In Watchmen, Ozymandias averts a world-ending nuclear war by staging an "invasion from another dimension", frightening the nations into working together against this common foe. To that end, he manufactures a convincing otherworldly monster and teleports it into the middle of New York. It kills half the city's population, but he actually succeeds! However, whether it stays that way will depend on whether anyone reads and decides to seriously examine Rorschach's evidence against him...
    • If you look at the former illustration of this page, Ozymandias is celebrating the beginning of the Utopia, the means are lampshaded by the picture of Alexander the Great 'solving' the Gordian Knot by destroying it with a spade. The genius of violence!
  • In DC Comics's Zero Hour, ex-Green Lantern Hal Jordan (embarking upon his Dork Age) tried to remake all of space and time to his liking.
  • A prime candidate for this trope: Magneto from the X-Men comics, animated series, and movies, who is sometimes willing to kill all "normals" to create a utopia for the mutants.
    • A few X-Men villains have tried to resolve the humans vs. mutants debate once and for all by either forcibly removing mutant powers altogether and making everyone a baseline human, or by forcibly imbuing everyone with mutant powers and turning everyone into mutants. Of course, neither the mutants nor the baseline humans who would be affected tend to be given any say in the matter.
  • Subverted in V for Vendetta. V has no expectations of creating a Utopia, just to destroy the fascist regime, allowing the people to decide for themselves how the country will be run from then on.
  • The Squadron Supreme limited series was based on this trope. The heroes decide to use their powers to bring about utopia, and disregard minor inconveniences like civil rights and individual freedoms along the way.
  • The Reality Warper Alfie O'Meagan from Nth Man: The Ultimate Ninja uses this to justify his actions—which include stomping on a battalion of soldiers, casually tormenting or killing anyone who opposes him, and unleashing a mutagenic virus on the planet.
  • In The Nineties, The Defenders were cursed to come together to save the world when it needed saving, even though they didn't want to. So, naturally, they decided to Take Over the World and run it right so it wouldn't need saving.

Fan Works

  • Executing the falsely-accused, genocide of the Seireitei, bloody war with the Gotei, raids into the human world, kidnapping Orihime. All necessary to achieve a better world in Downfall. And Unohana just might be right, too.
  • In the Mass Effect fanfic story The Council Era, the defining motivation of the Villain Protagonist Tyrin Lieph to bring the galaxy closer to total sanctity and peace, but he also believes that the ends ultimately justify the means, resulting in many controversial actions on his part, notwithstanding the utter genocide of the dezban race, because he perceives them as a threat to the Citadel.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic crossover fanfiction 'The Fandom Wars', the world has fallen into universal war over what were trivial 'fandoms' before the Rifts opened. The My Little Pony faction originally intended to stay out of the fighting and act only to aid refugees, but poor communication between the dimensions allowed a small group of extremists to manipulate Equestria into winning the war.
  • In With Strings Attached, Brox and Grunnel are perfectly willing to betray and enslave the four (whom Grunnel had befriended) in order to bring about the return of the skahs utopia, i.e., lots of monsters for the skahs to fight. All skahs would love this, and it really would result in skahs utopia. But the four strenuously object to the idea of creating monsters only to kill them, and they're not at all happy about being forced to provide part of the means to achieve this utopia.


General Mandible: Don't you understand? It's for the good of the Colony!
Z: What are you saying? We are the Colony!!

  • In Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, Sephiroth claims that his new goal is to use the thoughts of those who died from geostigma to take control of the lifestream and send the planet on a journey through space to find a new planet, where he'll build a "bright and shining future". This gets streamlined in the videogame sequel Dirge of Cerberus, in which the main villain wishes to go off into space with the lifestream itself to rule over a restarted world.
  • In Constantine, the Big Bad Gabriel plans to release Mammon (the son of the Devil) onto the Earth to bring pain and horror, in order to purify mankind and make it worthy of God's love.
  • Dr. Cocteau in Demolition Man is a "mild" version of this. He actually helps rebuild a post-apocalyptic Los Angeles into a beautiful, prosperous, violence-neutered Utopia. Though he did work a miracle, he exiled thousands who refused to conform to his "Perfect Pearl" vision and wanted to live unhealthy, violent, free lives. Ultimately, his homogeneous city is exposed to violence and change due to his own stupidity.
    • Simon Phoenix sums it up when he calls Cocteau an "evil Mr. Rogers".
  • The setting of the movie Equilibrium is a utopian future society created by suppressing all human emotion and anything that may stir it up—through propaganda, chemicals, and Gun Kata-practicing badass longcoats. This removes all hate, jealousy, and anger but also removes humanity's capacity for art and creativity. It all crumbles when one of the highest-ranking members of the Emotion Police stops taking his drugs and becomes disillusioned.
  • The goal of the Neighbourhood Watch Alliance in Hot Fuzz is Utopia Justifies the Means on a small scale, in their quest to win the Best Village Award at all costs. For the greater good.
  • Hugo Drax, a James Bond villain in Moonraker.
  • The Operative in Serenity calmly commits atrocity after atrocity because he believes that he's helping to create "a better world". Perhaps a semi-subversion, in that he does not intend to be a leader in his new world—he knows that what he does is evil, and that there will be no place for him in the better world.
    • Also, it is discovered that the Alliance government attempted to develop a drug to dampen people's violent impulses. It didn't work (most of the population they tested it on became totally apathetic and literally laid down and died; a few became the psychotic "Reavers"). Even if it had worked as desired, there would still be the issue of the Alliance's apparent plan to involuntarily dose people with the stuff....
    • That's not even counting the fact that the Alliance has been kidnapping and mindraping children in order to turn them into psychic assassin soldiers, all in the name of their vision of a "better world."
  • Darryl Revok of Scanners thinks that a scanner-run government would be the coolest thing ever. Reportedly, some of the characterization for Magneto was based on this.

"We'll create an empire so brilliant, so glorious, it'll be the envy of the world."

  • Sky Captain and The World of Tomorrow (2004). Dr Totenkopf gathers samples of every animal on Earth in order to seed life on another planet. The hero suggests just letting him go, until it's revealed that the engines of his rocket ship will incinerate the entire world.

Totenkopf: "I have been witness to a world consumed by hatred and bent on self-destruction. Watched as we have taken what was to be a paradise and failed in our responsibilities as its steward. I know now that the course the human race has set for itself cannot be changed. I am the last, desperate chance for a doomed planet."

  • Sneakers: Cosmo's motivation for acquiring the box by kidnapping and almost killing Marty.
  • In Star Wars Episode III, Sith Lord Palpatine states that once he rules the galaxy, there will be peace.
    • EU novel Outbound flight expands that Palpatine had actually foreseen the Yuuzhan Vong, and his entire purpose for the powergrab and superweapon production was so that there'd be a united galaxy able to deal with them when they come.
    • Darth Vader's words to Luke on Bespin about bringing peace and order to the galaxy (as well as a similar exchange of words to Padme in Revenge of the Sith) suggests that he is following this trope.
      • The Essential Guide to Warfare implies that most of the Imperial Navy's officers and personnel, with the notable exceptions of Grand Moff Tarkin and Admiral Motti (who were closer to Dystopia Justifies the Means), fought under the genuine belief that they were trying to bring peace and order to the galaxy.
    • Played straight with Count Dooku, who was so tired of what he felt was a corrupt Republic and an ineffective Jedi Order that he defected and joined the Sith. He is convinced that the best way to save the galaxy is to destroy the Republic and the Jedi by any means necessary, and then simply start over. That Dooku was willing to ally himself with Palpatine, fully aware that he was responsible for a lot of what he hated about the Republic (and that he trained the man that killed Dooku's beloved apprentice), is testament not only to Dooku's dedication but to Palpatine's persuasive abilities.
  • World peace through dictatorship was Bison's motivation in Street Fighter.

"The pax Bisonica..."

  • The Village is ostensibly a period drama about a primitive town's struggle with dark magical forces. In actuality, the town is on a modern nature preserve. Its adult inhabitants have fled there to set up a simple way of life which they hope will be free from senseless violence. Like most Utopian experiments, this one fails miserably (at least in principle) when one of the town's children tries to murder another in a fit of jealousy. One could reasonably argue that the fear-based "conditioning" the children were put through was more traumatizing to them than growing up in a modern society would have been.
    • Also, most of the children, instead of being killed by criminals, end up dying of disease or lack of medical care.
  • This is the crux of Project Mayhem.
  • More or less the idea in Dogtooth (Kynodontas): the parents isolate their three children from the outside world and give them a bizarrely warped idea of society and language in order to protect them from the evils of the world, except their life inside the house is disturbing and occasionally violent anyway, so it's not a very good plan.
  • Franco Maccalusso in the Apocalypse film series claims that he is responsible for getting rid of those who were Caught Up in the Rapture because they were obstacles to the world achieving world peace. He later uses an Assimilation Plot consisting of the Day of Wonders virtual reality program to force the people of the world to either accept the Mark of the Beast or die.
  • In Sherlock Holmes, Blackwood's ultimate goal is to sieze control of the British Empire and rule it through fear. Lord Coward, one of the politicians who supports his coup, claims that Blackwood will be a strong shepard for the weak masses.
  • The first Chinese emperor in the Wuxia movie Hero uses this as a motive to conquer China. One of the few movies where it is arguably shown as justified.
  • In The Avengers, Loki states his plans to rule these petty humans and thereby alleviate war and suffering.


  • Both the sort-of Designated Villains and the utterly Designated Heroes in the Underground Zealot series are quite happy about mass slaughter of non-combatants of their opposite number to achieve their goals. The main difference between the two is that the evil atheists actually have succeeded in building their utopia (as long as you're also an atheist, which about 95% of the population seems to be) and are trying to keep it that way, while the good Christians are working to overthrow it with their own utopia.
  • The final book of cult teen series Spy High is a great example of this. The Big Bad in question is Jonathan Deveraux, the deceased founder of the Spy School whose personality has been uploaded onto a computer. Throughout the series, he gradually loses access to the "human" parts of his computerised psyche. As a result, he uses his vast resources to infiltrate computer systems all around the world, slipping nanomachines into everyday products. When activated, these nanomachines will turn people into emotionless zombies with no hatred or anger whatsoever. Using the pseudonym "The Deliverer", he activates it at a UN summit, turning all the UN ambassadors into zombies, and then turns the entire United Kingdom for much the same effect. Needless to say, this causes global panic.

Lori: He's going to establish Utopia, a perfect - no, the perfect society.

  • In David Wingrove's Chung Kuo, this is a common view among both defenders and rebels in the City, although it was not all-pervasive.
  • The island "where everything ends up" in the final book in A Series of Unfortunate Events has the leader, Ishmael, hiding many important documents from the islanders in the arboretum. He "doesn't force anyone to do anything", yet everyone agrees. Like Brave New World, the island's citizens' judgment constantly diminishes because they are always drinking cordial. Ish justifies this by insisting that there's "nothing wrong with sheltering people from the terrible dangers", and even points out that the Baudelaire parents did the same thing.
  • The villains in the Dean Koontz novel Night Chills come up with an effective method of mind control through Subliminal Advertising and seek to make the world perfectly ordered, but their agent quickly succumbs to Power Perversion Potential when testing its effects on a small town.
  • The Yehtzig Pirate League in Stationery Voyagers believes that they can create a "perfect" universe...sort of...if they can make God implode and then seat the Demon Lord Lorkush on the throne. This would, in their minds, put Lorkush in charge of Heaven and the current Pirate Lord in charge of Physicalia as the ruling god. Consto wants to put Mezzlewradd on that throne (both are just disguises worn by the Vile Chameleon). To achieve these ends, they want to conquer the universe and wipe out all Minshans. For Astrabolo, however, Despotism Justifies the Means.
  • In the young adult novel Running Out of Time, an Old West settlement is dying of a plague. One girl must brave the unknown to save the town. It turns out that her entire town is a tourist attraction, set up by idealists who disliked the modern world. Unfortunately, for the children born into the town, the few people who still believe in the town's original purpose force everyone to stay, and prohibit the parents from telling their kids, who begin dying like flies from diphtheria.
    • It Got Worse: the diphtheria is Phase One of an evil scheme to breed a super race of children by exposing them to various diseases. The kids just have to survive them all.
  • Brave New World by Aldous Huxley also does a good job of showing this trope, by creating a sort of mindless utopia which revolves around sex, drugs, and the mass production of humans to fit into certain roles in society.
    • Played straight by World Controller Mustapha Mond, who sees the flaws in the society he runs, but thinks the downsides are worth it to maintain a utopia where everyone is happy.
  • On the other hand, it's completely subverted in 1984: Winston thinks that the Party's aim was to make a utopia where everyone is equal and happy, and it just happened to have Gone Horribly Wrong, but O'Brian corrects him and explains that creating a utopia was never the intention: they're just doing it for the power.
  • The plot of Darkness at Noon is pretty much entirely centered around Rubashov, a veteran Communist reflecting on all the people he's betrayed and horrible things he's done in the name of building a Utopia, while contrasting it with the reality of the Crapsack World he's actually helped to create.
  • In the Isaac Asimov novel The End of Eternity, an entire corps of time-traveling guardians ensure humanity's peaceful, prosperous existence...at the cost of losing creative individuals and locking mankind on Earth, which, it turns out, will cause humanity to wither and die out as an evolutionary dead end when younger, more ambitious alien societies quickly overtake it in technology and take over all other inhabitable worlds before humans realize that it may be a good idea to move on.
    • And, far later, his Robots/Empire/Foundation series arguably ended up proposing no less than three possible means towards utopia - the First and Second Foundations, devoted to taking over the world through sheer technological superiority and manipulation vs. telepathy and prescient mathematics (both of which are intended to lead to a lasting and peaceful new Galactic Empire), and "Gaia", a proposal that would involve stripping many lifeforms, including humanity, of much of their individuality and rebelliousness. An entire book is devoted to figuring out which of the three is the most desirable, but while the rather interesting choice of Gaia is somewhat teasingly ominous, seen as a necessary evil almost, despite having a logical reason behind it, we'll pretty much never actually really know how it was officially intended to work out for humanity, as Dr. Asimov couldn't himself decide, and instead spent his last years writing two prequels detailing the life of Hari Seldon.
      • Addressed in one of the prequels by David Brin, whereby it turns out to be a 27, the Knight Templar placed by Daneel to placate various factions.
      • A brief paragraph at the start of one of the prequel novels alludes to a very interesting solution. The Gaia aspect was incorporated, along with galaxy-shared Second Foundation group-knowledge with a helping of the First Foundation's scientific view.
  • Fahrenheit 451 is a classic example, where a utopia is created by banning books, funerals, weddings, and just about anything that causes an emotional reaction.
  • Played heroically by Joe Haldeman's Forever Peace, where the main characters discover that a project to recreate and study the early Big Bang will, well...cause a new Big Bang. Given that humanity now has the means to wipe out the universe, the heroes decide to force the war-torn near-future Earth into peace by forcibly implanting neural jacks into key figures in the multinational military, and then hooking them up to each other and many others to force empathy and the inability to kill (directly or indirectly) on them, and then eventually on to humanity at large. The final death toll of their project is actually quite small, and it is much more favorable compared to the alternative.
  • In Lois Lowry's The Giver, the titular character and Jonas, his apprentice, often discuss whether their peaceful and happy lives ordained by the Community is worth the loss of choice, family, sexuality, color, and music, and if it's worth the "release" (that is, execution) of anyone who transgresses against the rules, even accidentally, and any extra babies that would disrupt the population count.
  • Harrison Bergeron uses this. Egalitarianism is enforced by handicapping the more intelligent, athletic, or beautiful members of society down to the level of the lowest common endowment. And if you still happen to be able to destroy your handicaps...you'll be shot dead.
  • In Stephanie Meyer's The Host, the aliens who come to Earth make it a lovely, peaceful land of curiosity and intelligence . . . by taking over the bodies of all the humans and effectively killing them. A point is made in the story that the younger a human is the easier it is to take them over, which means anyone who didn't have the age/willpower to fight back had their minds and individuality destroyed so silver worms could hijack their bodies.
  • The One Ring in The Lord of the Rings offers everyone who comes near it a vision of a world bowing to them as a great and mighty lord. The hobbits are able to resist its effects solely due to their humility.
    • Admittedly, if you were smaller than even your average dwarf, you would probably find it hard to see yourself as some kind of Evil Overlord as well.
      • Also, if your idea of happiness is sitting around a quiet country side without a care, eating and smoking things you can easily get, ruling the world would just be needless stress.
      • When the Ring tempts Sam, the best vision of power it can find for him is an enormous garden in which he can lord over hordes of under-gardeners. Sam just finds it silly. The garden at Bag End was big enough for him, and even if he wanted a garden that big, to have "slaves" managing it would eliminate the joy of having a garden in the first place.
      • It is less humility (or, at least, conscious humility) and more a combination of simple pleasures and great willpower. The hobbits don't want to rule the world, and such ideas are completely alien to them. This is also how others can (temporarily) overcome the Ring: by realizing and reminding themselves that power is not what they want. Sooner or later, everyone seems to give in, although it takes a hell of a lot more time with simple people like the hobbits, as Bilbo demonstrates.
  • The Alternate History novel Pavane concerns an alternate England ruled by the Inquisition, which is ultimately revealed to have slowed down technological advances so to avoid the Holocaust and other calamities of this world (how they knew about this is less clear).
  • The main character of Perfume envisions a world where everyone bows to his god-like sense of smell, and he's willing to kill anyone he has to, without remorse, to get it. He is on the verge of succeeding when he gets a taste of what it would be like, and decides that it's not what he wanted after all.
  • In Vernor Vinge's Rainbow's End, humanity's fast technological progress gives minor hate groups the ability to bring destruction on a large scale. Humanity is on the brink of either annihilation or a singularity. The antagonist plans to use You Gotta Believe Me technology to bring about some adult supervision. The same author doesn't seem to have much trust in the near future; a similar kind of supervision appears as the Peace Authority, in the Across Realtime trilogy.
  • The Star Trek novel "Captain's Glory" by William Shatner and Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens lampshades all the "perfect societies" Kirk and Spock had visited over the years. Kirk says, "Spock, how many times did we visit a planet where the leaders said they had created the perfect society? And all we had to do to achieve perfection was to not ask any questions."
  • In the Sword of Truth series, Emperor Jagang believes that conquering the entire world and killing everyone with magic will sever the connection the Creator and Keeper have with it, allowing mankind alone to advance into a new golden age. He also believes that everyone should be exactly equal and all who have any special talents should be punished for it.
  • In Scott Westerfeld's Uglies series, everyone is beautiful and happy. There's no war and No Poverty. The surgery that makes everyone pretty also gives them brain lesions eliminating anger and sadness, but also creativity and independence.
  • Ursula K. Le Guin examines this issue in at least two of her stories. Both The Lathe of Heaven and The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas examine the costs and pitfalls of possible utopias.
  • In Watership Down, the rabbit protagonists are invited to join a pleasant warren, with abundant food readily available from a nearby garden that is never guarded. The natives of this Lapine utopia have seemingly evolved beyond merely struggling for survival, and have delved into art and poetry, as would be expected from a culture of peace and prosperity. But gentle mystic Fiver gets bad vibes and won't enter the warren, and the others discover almost too late that the farmer provides the garden to fatten up the rabbits and make them less wary, and he "harvests" them whenever he wants something for his stewpot. Rather than leave such bounty, the inhabitants have developed a social code that never asks where someone is -- because they just might be strangling to death in a snare.
  • Emhyr var Emreis, Emperor of Nilfgaard, one of the main antagonists (sort of) in Andrzej Sapkowski's The Witcher cycle, reveals at the culmination of the last book that, according to an ancient prophecy, he and he alone may save the world from a slow, freezing death by having a child with his likewise-prophesied daughter (who also happens to be one of the main character's and the titular Witcher Geralt's adopted daughter, more or less). The son of that child will come to rule the entire world - and save it from destruction. Aside from incest, the plan also involved killing witnesses and starting the medieval fantasy version of World War II, but all that was quite secondary. Geralt replied that a world that has to be saved in such a way isn't worth saving and, eventually, shamed Emhyr into abandoning the plan and letting his daughter go. It is all but outright stated that, in doing so, he irrevocably doomed the world, though it still has three thousand years to go.
  • In The Golden Compass, Lord Asriel is willing to kill Lyra's best friend in order to make a portal and gather an army to fight the Authority.
    • The closest he comes to reconsidering is when Lyra shows up and he thinks that fate has sent him his own child in answer to his summons.
  • Played completely straight in The Spellsong Cycle by L.E. Modesitt Jr. The main character, who's canonically Neutral Good, accumulates a five-digit body count by the end of the first book, because she's determined to fix the Crapsack World she's trapped in. Interestingly, she isn't aiming for utopia proper—she's trying to recreate the American democratic system, which is utopian compared to the society she's dealing with.
  • Damian Cray from the Alex Rider series thinks that most of the problems in the world are caused by drugs. So he kills a few people who get in his way, a person who just badmouths him, steals Air Force One, and tries to launch nukes at major drug-running countries.
  • In Heaven by Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen, the religion of Cosmic Unity was born from the idea that since interplanetary warfare would be so destructive, all planets and people must join together in harmony. Since such warfare must obviously be avoided at all costs, everyone who doesn't agree with the idea of joining the church is subject to being attacked and utterly annihilated by them. The virtual Heaven they offer their members is also questionable, though, in that case this, trope is subverted in that as soon as its custodians encounter a single being that doesn't want to live in it after experiencing it, which they imagined impossible, they begin to dismantle the system.
  • In the Backstory of Zilpha Keatley Snyder's Green-Sky Trilogy, the pair of scientists who fled Earth with a boatload of war orphans to form the peaceful new world of Green-Sky have a falling out as their charges start coming of age. Neshom argues that the "Kindar" should learn about the horrors they came from. Wissen argues that the only way to prevent the tragedy they fled is to never let the Kindar know of such things and to all but banish the concepts leading to violence from society. Neshom ends up dead, and his followers banished underground. It's implied that Wissen murdered his colleague.
  • Tom Cairstens' motivation for collaborating with Gwendolyn Ingolfssen in Drakon might be described as Ecotopia Justifies the Means. If her plan succeeds, there will be no more extinctions (except, technically, that of the human race.)
  • In Stephen Hunt's Jakelian novels, there once was a Utopia called Camlantis that faded into legend after being overthrown by barbarian hordes. Abraham Quest and Robur seek to rediscover and re-establish this Utopia, and to make sure that it doesn't fall again by wiping out every other nation, human or otherwise, on Earth.
  • In Jack Williamson's story, "With Folded Hands", robots programmed in part to "prevent humans from harming themselves" spread from world to world and create "utopias" where they stop people from doing just about anything because it could potentially harm them. If a person tries to kill themselves from the sheer boredom of life, the robots will "reprogram" him to love this new life. At the end of the story, the protagonist kills himself while the robots are just starting to take over Earth, after realizing there was nothing that could be done to stop them.
    • Given that life is (eventually) fatal...
  • Perennial mantra of the Special Circumstances division of The Culture: according to them, they're making other civilizations better (ie, more Culture-like), and you can ignore the assassinations, revolutions, and occasional bloody wars they cause to do it because they can statistically prove that it's all worth it. To three decimal places, if you'd like.
  • This is the motivation of almost every villainous character in War of the Dreaming—except the Big Bad, who wants a straight-up Villain World.
  • In Daniel Suarez' Daemon, it is revealed that this is Matthew Sobol's goal in writing the Daemon. His plans are to tear down the society that currently exists, ultimately causing global economic and social chaos and forcing the issue on those who didn't join his efforts willingly. In the end, however, it appears that his actions are justified. While not a Utopia, the beginning of what appears to be a truly better society is formed.
    • To be fair, Sobel and his Daemon didn't cause the economic and social chaos, he just saw it coming and used the Daemon to prepare people for it. Well, the Daemon might have contributed slightly with the whole corn thing.
  • Attempted by Gellert Grindelwald. Gellert believed that Muggles, left to their own devices, were too dangerous and needed to be guided or outright controlled by the wiser magical people. His use of dark magic and the atrocities he committed, even his apparent affiliation with Hitler, were all dismissed with one phrase: "For the greater good".
    • Some fanfic writers attribute a more cunning and under-handed version of this to Dumbledore, with him either planning to sacrifice Harry "for the greater good" or molding him into the perfect leader to create the future Dumbledore had planned out. Considering revelations in the seventh book, it's not a difficult leap in reasoning.
  • In a short story by Philip Jose Farmer called Seventy Years of Decpop, a Mad Scientist releases a virus that renders a large portion of the Earth's population sterile. The story is told from the point of view of a baby food salesman who realizes that he's going to be out of a job soon, since most people won't be able to conceive children. This story was written in The Seventies when overpopulation was a big concern, and the plot actually seems to succeed. With less people, quality of life improves, racial-oriented housing (upscale Whites versus ghetto Blacks) disappears, individualized teaching spreads in the schools, the Native American tribes start getting all their land back, and pollution decreases while more natural areas are preserved and enlarged. Fertile people become highly sought after and are put in a position of unprecedented influence (even shown in a situation where one woman who's fertile is a lesbian and agrees to artificial insemination ONLY if she's allowed to legally wed her same-sex partner DECADES before this can be done in the real world). It's not perfect, because Humans Are the Real Monsters, but it seems as close as we'll ever come to a utopia. The man responsible is never seen at all, so no one even knows if he himself survived, but he gradually is declared a Well-Intentioned Extremist.
  • The villains of Rainbow Six want to wipe out large portions of humanity with an engineered virus so that the planet can be saved.
  • Nicolae Carpathia's goal of a peaceful united world under one government in the Left Behind book series requires using police state methods to achieve. It's also the basis for everything that God does in the book series itself.
  • The ultimate goal of the Mesan Alignment in Honor Harrington is the ultimate perfection of the human species - although they still plan on having a vast slave underclass (they are the bad guys, after all).

Live-Action TV

  • Jasmine in Angel used her godhood to engineer her return to Earth as a beatific, mind-numbingly beautiful goddess. Though she unified all who saw her (or heard her voice) and ended conflict, that much power required "volunteers" to be eaten by draining their life force on a daily basis. If successful, she would have essentially made everyone into peaceful, Jasmine-loving zombies, destroying all evil in the world (except herself), and also have eaten thousands of people per year. Not only that, but she was shown to be a very vain being, quite possibly more concerned with being worshiped than with helping people. We also get to see the last world Jasmine visited. It's...not a very nice place, and she abandoned it once she grew bored of it.
    • The fifth season used this trope throughout the entire season, putting the heroes in charge of the villain's organisation and having them try to use it as a weapon for good. But what happens when that means getting villains acquitted in court, or playing murky demon politics, or playing nice to a Demon Lord? It was eventually revealed, by their nemesis Lindsey no less, that doing this was crippling their effectiveness against the malevolent Senior Partners. "What you've been doing here every day is learning to compromise and accept the world the way it is. Newsflash - heroes don't do that!" (paraphrased)
  • The PsiCop Alfred Bester from Babylon 5, who grew up as a orphan baby in the Psi Corps and is willing to kill or mind-control any non-telepath in his way if it furthers his goal of saving human telepaths and other psychics from hate-crimes and discrimination, and ultimately achieving his dream of giving the telepathic "homo superior" dominance over the non-mutants. On the other hand, he is extremely hesitant to kill a telepath even if said telepath opposes him (instead, he tries to persuade them to change their views, or, if that doesn't work, tries to capture them and ship them to Psi Corps "re-education" camps). Considering that, during the series, telepaths are abused and enslaved both by the Psi Corps and the Shadows, and Garibaldi uncovers a conspiracy by an anti-mutant group to infect all human telepaths with a deadly virus so that they would either have to take daily injections of medication (also manufactured by the same corporation) and be easily controllable that way, or die in agony, Bester's paranoia can be seen as simple pre-emptive self-defense.
    • Except for the gleeful delight he takes in tormenting Mundanes, and the casualness with which he kills them.
    • The aforementioned conspiracy discovered by Garibaldi is also a case of this.
    • The Shadows and Vorlons from the same series believe that their views of society create "perfection" and are well worth blowing up planets for. As these views are diametrically opposed, the rest of the galaxy is in trouble.
  • The Avatars in Charmed wanted to create a world without conflict. It turned out that maintaining it involved the deletion of anyone whose violent tendencies survived their spell.
  • The Scientific Reform Society in the Doctor Who story "Robot" planned to trigger a worldwide nuclear holocaust unless the nations agreed to yield power to them.
    • And let's not forget the Cybermen. When they invaded this Earth through a parallel universe, they declared that they will take over and change society by removing fear, hatred, and classism...by converting the human race into them.
    • Most notable of all is Tobias Vaughn, the CEO of an electronics company who sought to ally with and manipulate the Cybermen into taking over the world for him, so he could then doublecross them and create a utopia where all ideological disputes cease and unity is attained. Unfortunately for Vaughn, the Cybermen were one step ahead and doublecrossed him first, leading him to ally with the Doctor to take down the threat that he himself had led to the Earth in the first place.
    • In Invasion of the Dinosaurs, a group of Well Intentioned Extremists, believing that the environment could not be saved, sent a shipload of volunteers on a Fauxtastic Voyage to "another world", to disembark after time had been reversed back to the Mesozoic and the rest of humanity (as well as all the Silurians) written out of history.
    • In Tomb of the Cybermen, Klieg and the rest of the Brotherhood of Logicians intended to take over the world with the aid of the Cybermen. Bit of a logical fallacy there ...
      • Of course, the Doctor eventually manages to goad Klieg into revealing that, for him, at least, logic and utopia are just excuses; at the end of it all, he's just a power-mad nutcase.
  • Linderman, on Heroes, wants to allow New York City to be destroyed by an atomic explosion, ostensibly to unite the world and grant it hope...however, it is never explained exactly why he expects this as an outcome. This may be a Shout-Out to Watchmen.
    • It's more or less spelled out that he intended Nathan to become a leader of men, to unite people and guide a world horrified by the destruction (with Linderman as the power behind the throne). Of course, Sylar, DL, and Nikki, and Nathan himself, proved more unpredictable than Linderman thought.
    • And let's not forget Adam Monroe, who wants to "fix" the world by releasing a virus that will kill over 90% of the population. Apparently, he thinks this will end wars and discrimination and...well, anything. And, of course, when the dust settles and the survivors look around, he, the immortal Adam Monroe, will be there to lead them and become emperor over all. Or something.
      • There's an obvious shout out to Ras Al Ghul/Apocalypse in that Adam believes that only the strongest and smartest will be able to survive the virus (possibly through his intervention) with those he deems unworthy being eradicated.
  • In the third season of Kyle XY, the upper echelons of the Latnok Society appear to be like this.
  • On Star Trek, the Borg wish to understand all life forms and establish peace by linking everyone and everything into their Hive Mind, but pretty much everyone they meet would rather die than be assimilated. The Borg have expressed genuine confusion over that point many times.
  • At the end of the fourth season of Supernatural, Zachariah reveals that the senior angels (he claimed the 'grunts' would have revolted had they known beforehand) allowed most of the seals to be broken, and they want Sam to kill Lilith and break the final seal, so Lucifer will walk free. Why? Because after the Apocalypse, which they are sure they will win, there will be paradise on Earth. And if billions of humans have to die to ensure this paradise? Well, they aren't particularly concerned about that.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series
    • In the backstory of "The Return of the Archons" and "The Apple", mind control/brainwashing was used to make the population docile and happy.
    • I, Mudd": a group of androids decided to conquer the galaxy and impose peace on everyone by force.
    • What Are Little Girls Made Of": an android decided to Kill and Replace all humans with androids in order to eliminate negative emotions like jealousy, greed, and hate. Of course, it would also get rid of positive emotions like love and tenderness.
    • Also, consider the concept of genetic augmentation. The scientific breakthroughs that would make humanity stronger, faster, and smarter also bred egomaniacs like Khan Noonien Singh. This so traumatized the Earth that genetic engineering was banned into the 24th century.
  • In the later seasons of The 4400, the faction led by Jordan Collier has a plan to inject every human being on Earth with promycin, the drug that has a 50/50 chance of giving a person a supernatural ability or killing them. Collier's goal is to create a new paradise of super-humans, despite the fact that this also means roughly 50% of the world's population will die. The future humans who sent back the original 4400 (with all the death and chaos many of them led to) and did everything in their power to keep Collier around and, presumably, devise his plan, also apply given their stated goal of saving the world, no matter the bastardy things they have to do to achieve it. According to them, the alternative is worse than 50% dead, but it depends whether you believe them or not.
  • In Farscape, the Nebari are ruled by a force known as "The Establishment", who advocate a rigid system of order where the individual sacrifices his freedom and conforms for the greater good. Those who refuse are mentally modified into happy slaves, blissfully serving the order. Oh, and they also have a lovely plan to make the entire universe this way.


  • Ska band Five Iron Frenzy mocked this attitude in their song "My Evil Plan to Save the World."
  • The song "Bloody Revolutions" by Crass criticizes this attitude, as part of a deconstruction of armed revolutions:"That's the kind of self-deception that killed ten million Jews, just the same false logic that all powermongers use."

Tabletop Games

  • BattleTech gives us both the Crusader faction of the Clans, who want to conquer the Inner Sphere their ancestors left behind to recreate the golden age of the Star League—with themselves as the overlords, never mind the fact that their warrior culture has diverged wildly from even their rose-colored view of the past, of course—and (pre-schism) ComStar, an ostensibly neutral, pseudo-religious organization hoarding technological knowledge, also has an eye towards one day creating an utopia under their benevolent rule...after watching and, if necessarily, helping the Successor States, whose interstellar communications they're incidentally in charge of, bomb each other back into the Stone Age, that is.
  • Planescape has the Harmonium faction. All factions qualify to some degree, but the Harmonium are the most clear-cut ones: they seek to create Harmony...by bashing the heads of anyone who disagrees. The standard tactics (brainwashing, executions, etc.) are used. Their plans tend to backfire spectacularly, like their idea of sticking anyone not Lawful or Good enough into re-education camps...that caused the entire layer of a plane to slide into the Lawful Neutral plane of Mechanus...
  • Warhammer 40,000: the Imperium of Man quit trying to achieve utopia after a galaxy-shattering civil war that resulted in a Church Militant that puts the emphasis on the "Militant" taking over, but the Tau, who do pretty much everything "For the Greater Good!", are a utopia (or so they claim) with an aggressive foreign policy and a fondness for orbital bombardments, sterilization, and concentration camps.
    • Except they're the only ones that try diplomacy.
    • The aforementioned civil war deserves explanation. The Emperor of Mankind launches a galaxy wide crusade to unite humanity and conquer it for all of mankind. Uber powerful though he is, he can't do the job alone. So he creates the Primarchs, genetically enhanced demi-gods created from samples of his own DNA. After a slight hiccup to the plan, the Emperor is eventually reunited with all his lost children. Said children proceed to achieve Daddy's dream of human dominance by killing any and all xenos, and all men who refuse to comply. Bad enough. Then the Emperor leaves the crusade...and gives Horus command of the whole show. Horus does well for a bit, but finds it hard to keep up with the expectations. He is then killed, and shown a world where he is forgotten, and his beloved father has become what he preached against, a God. Cue immediate patricidal rage and a call to arms to all who don't like the Emperor (and even a few who are simply indifferent). Horus plans on creating a better galaxy than the Emperor, but rather slips up in believing that the best way to do this is to ally himself with the universal personifications of slaughter, decay, lust, and change. Utopia doesn't seem too high on the list when you're on the payroll of existence-corrupting, soul-eating, interdimensional Eldritch Abominations.
  • Warhammer Fantasy Battle Fantasy has much the same. Archaon believes that the triumph of Chaos will save the world from corruption, and some of The Undead commanders are trying to turn the entire world into undead because Chaos can't feed off of them like they do the living. And the Lizardmen want to restore the world to the layout of the Old Ones, regardless of the population migration that's occurred since they disappeared.
  • In Mage: The Ascension, some parts of the Technocracy fill this role. The individual Technocrats are generally no better or worse than other mages, and often work towards what they see as a better, brighter future. If that requires crushing anything in their path, stifling dissension, and purging the world of wonder and the supernatural...Well, you can't make an omelette without breaking a few heads.
    • Cynically speaking, the Traditions could be the same. They had control once. It was called the Dark Ages.
      • You can even make the argument that the Traditions were far worse than the Technocracy. The Technocracy's main goal is to have all magic be repeatable and safe for the Masses to use (ie, science and technology), rather than limiting its use to a few tyrants wielding godlike power. Sure, they need to exterminate reality warpers who decide that the Dark Age realities should take precedence over what the Masses have decided they want through their collective consciousness, but at least they keep the horrors from beyond at bay, sometimes to great sacrifice of their own. Heck, they even managed to take out the Ravnos Antediluvian, with significant cost to themselves, with neutron bombs when all the other groups failed (though they did weaken it enough for the Technocracy to do so).
  • The Jammers from Feng Shui, that madcap band of Bomb-Throwing Anarchists, Maniac Monkeys, and Mad Bombers, are doing it all for the sake of the dream of their leader, Battlechimp Potemkin. The Battlechimp's dream is a world without chi, a world where humanity can finally be free to make their own decisions without being influenced by whoever has the most feng shui at his or her command. In order to do this, Potemkin wants every Feng Shui site in all the major junctures and the Netherworld blown sky high, no matter what form the site takes or how many innocent people will be killed in the process, or, indeed, what the long term consequences will be if he should actually succeed in destroying the world's chi.
  • This was what Yawgmoth in Magic: The Gathering thought he was doing when he created Phyrexia. The net result was much, much worse.

Video Games

  • In Persona 2: Eternal Punishment, Philemon may be the ultimate incarnation of all benevolence in humanity and the mortal enemy of Nyarlathotep, the embodiment of all evil, but he's still a major dick and creates a terrible mess of everything, leading to many deaths, innocent and guilty alike, the creation of an Ill Girl, and the creation of a new, clean, parallel timeline just to one-up Nyarlathotep in their contest to see who's the strongest. And then Earth blows up. Then he takes the limelight, gloats about how he's won against Nyarlathotep, and graciously offers to hit the Reset Button. There's a reason why decking him upon hearing of what he has done is very much an option.
  • The Big Bad of Ar tonelico, Mir, is after a utopia in which Reyvateils, artificially-created magical song maidens, will live free from slavery and mistreatment. In order to achieve this, she seeks to destroy all humans, having pegged them pretty firmly as irredeemable monsters due to her own traumatic history as a Tyke Bomb. The fact that she names this utopia "Reyvateilia" goes some way towards exemplifying the fact that she's pretty much just a terrified, idealistic child inside.
    • In the sequel, she's still at it. Oh, and this time, she's one of your party members. Not to mention that pretty much everyone in your party is a Well-Intentioned Extremist at best.
  • In BioShock (series), the player learns that Andrew Ryan, creator of the pseudo-Objectivist undersea utopia Rapture, wound up Jumping Off the Slippery Slope and turning into a totalitarian ruler in his efforts to eliminate his ruthless rival, Frank Fontaine.
    • BioShock (series) 2's villain, Sophia Lamb, has a more explicitly utopian scheme in mind: using a combination of genetic engineering and psychological conditioning to create people with no sense of self-interest whatsoever...starting with her own daughter.
  • In World of Warcraft, there is a scene where a rebellious citizen, delivering some inflammatory speeches in Silvermoon, is literally mind controlled by the authorities into saying something very different. The same city always has a "harassed citizen" by the main gate, arrested and kneeling down. Arcane (robot) guardians of the city proclaim "Happiness is mandatory" once in a while.
  • One of Lord Recluse's right hand men in City of Villains, Scirocco, falls under this in a late game arc.
  • Sakaki of .hack//G.U tried using AIDA to make a world where everyone would get along.
  • The goal of the Order of the Sword in Devil May Cry 4 is to use the denizens of the Demon World to destroy the Human World so that they can bring about Sanctus' version of Utopia.
  • Darth Revan in Knights of the Old Republic—it's revealed in the second game that he became a Sith Lord at least partly for the best interests of justice and order in the galaxy. Then again, this seems to be a common self-justification and/or recruiting gimmick among Sith Lords. Revan is simply one of the very few who actually tried.
    • Actually, Kreia mentions in the sequel that Revan was attempting to unify and solidify the galaxy to prepare for a colossal war with an extra-galactic, outside the Force threat, which just reeks powerfully of the Yuuzhan Vong.
    • Ditto Darth Traya/Kreia (if that's even a spoiler) in the sequel. She wants to destroy the Force so everyone can have free will, but to do that, she tries to destroy a planet and make the entire galaxy feel its pain. She also uses this to justify the whole revenge spree thing.
  • Lord Lucian from Fable II very much planned for this. While in the Spire, he gave a speech saying that "The world outside is a corrupt, rotting husk. I plan to change all that. All I require of you is complete obedience."
  • The bonus material for Halo 3 describe the Flood as a theoretical utopia, where, if everybody joined the Flood, there would be no more violence, war, poverty, hatred, etc. Unfortunately, the means by which it does this is by assimilating all life and rendering them into zombie-like creatures.
  • Big Bad Noir in La Pucelle is sympathetic for much of the game, seeking to create his "Utopia" where half-demons such as himself can be accepted. However, when you find out what his "Utopia" actually consists of, there is only one appropriate response remaining.
  • A theme of the Metal Gear series is "Outer Heaven", Big Boss' ideal of a world where soldiers would always have a place free from political manipulation; played almost straight in Metal Gear Solid (where Liquid Snake takes up the mantle), reworked in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty (where Solidus' ideal is not soldiers but rather America/liberty), conceived in Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops (Army's Heaven was a less-than-sincere idea but had the basic concept down), and then nastily subverted in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, where war has become a business, the world a place where soldiers will 'always' be needed, but with none of the ideals behind Big Boss' vision.
    • By the end of 4, Big Boss shows up and accepts that his idea was wrong and the pursuit of it only led to more problems.
  • This turns out to be the main villain's motivation in the first Shadow Hearts. Notably, he actually only decided to take extreme measures after his less extreme attempt failed catastrophically, leading to him being tried and imprisoned as a heretic several centuries prior to the game.
  • This is pretty much the entire premise of the Messian Church in the Shin Megami Tensei series, and of their patron deity Himself. It only becomes more prominent as the series goes on, from Shin Megami Tensei to SMT II to SMT: Nocturne.
  • Claudia Wolf in Silent Hill 3 is a member of the Silent Hill cult that wishes to birth their god into the mortal world so it may bring paradise. Since she believes that a god that is born through suffering would be more likely to be benevolent than one that isn't, Claudia makes Heather suffer by murdering her father, Harry Mason. But although Claudia desperately wishes for paradise due to her abusive childhood, she's aware that her actions will deny her a place in the utopia she's seeking to create.
  • Count Bleck from Super Paper Mario would fit this trope perfectly if it didn't turn out that he was just a Nietzsche Wannabe instead, just wanting to destroy everything without recreating it and LYING about it by telling his minions that he was going to recreate the universe as a utopia. Dimentio from the same game, on the other hand, fits this perfectly, even betraying Count Bleck to destroy the world and remake it himself when he finds out that Bleck is lying.
  • Lord Yggdrasil in Tales of Symphonia wants to create a world where everyone is a soulless shell, so there would be no more discrimination, but mainly, he just wants to resurrect his dead sister.
    • This is a common theme in the Tales (series) games. This pops up again in Tales of the Abyss, in which the Big Bad seeks to kill everyone on the planet and replace them with clones in an attempt to Screw Destiny. It makes sense in context. The whole world was living an entirely predetermined existence, consulting a prophecy even for things such as what to eat for dinner.
      • What makes the Tales of The Abyss example weird is that the guy was willing use many of the clones created as pawns, cast them aside, and tell them they were just mere tools to add insult to injury.
      • It's also Fridge Brilliance when you think about it. The clone in question was a clone of The Chosen One and so, by definition, was connected in some way to the world that he wanted to destroy.
  • The nation of Galbadia is taking over other nations in order to spread its prosperity...until Sorceress Edea scooches in and basically says "You're all fucked."
  • Pokémon Diamond and Pearl has Cyrus, who's convinced that we are all screwing up the world beyond repair and the only way to form a better world is to simply destroy and rebuild it all. And, this being a Pokemon character and plot, you get three guesses as to what he's going to manipulate into doing it.
    • His goal was expanded in Platinum to specifically creating a world without spirit, which, by looking through Pokemon mythology, would amount to no willpower, wisdom, or emotion.
  • Fallout 3 features John Henry Eden, who wants to nobly rebuild America to its status pre-nuclear apocalypse. To do this, he plans on introducing a horrifically virulent bioweapon into the water, leading to the death of anyone who has mutations of any sort. Given that it's a nuclear wasteland, that means he's effectively planning on killing everyone except his own troops.
  • In Final Fantasy XI, we have Kam'lanaut and Eald'narche, who are attempting to manipulate the crystal line to reform the five mothercrystals into the one crystal it used to be and restore the world to the Paradise it once was. Sounds nice right? Until you realize that splitting the crystal was what made life in the world possible and remaking Paradise would kill all life on the planet.
  • In Final Fantasy XII, to wrest the reins of History from the manipulative Occuria and back into the hands of Man is Vayne's goal, with support from a Well-Intentioned Extremist Mad Scientist and their divine mentor. Naturally, the Man to lead Ivalice's new History can be none other than the new Dynast-King, Vayne himself.
    • There is also a minor instance of this in Vossler, to whom the freedom of his homeland (even as a puppet state under Archadian rule) is so far above any other concern, he's willing to sell out his own Princess for it.
  • The Knights Templar in Assassin's Creed plan to control the world using Lost Technology from Those Who Came Before. Vidic, lamenting how people in 1191 are no different in manner from the people of 2012, says that the world needs a sense of order, even if it means giving up freedom.
    • To a degree, this is the belief of the Assassins as well. They kill those who would suppress free will in order to obtain utopia, so that the world can reach utopia on its own terms.
  • Modern Warfare 2: Shepard instigates a war between Russia and the United States (and possibly World War III) in order to usher in a new era of American supremacy and patriotism.
  • In Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura, the Big Bad Kerghan, first of the necromancers, in a variation of this trope, has found definitive proof that the afterlife is eternal bliss, whereas life is pain and misery. He then concludes that everyone would be much happier there and would gladly die if they had seen what he's seen. Because of this he plans to kill every living thing in Arcanum, after which he will kill himself so everyone can enjoy the afterlife for the rest of eternity. One of your party members, who you, potentially, brought back from the dead, can even confirm that Kerghan's description of the afterlife is indeed accurate, but he still thinks that life is worth living.
  • In the Mass Effect series, this is the motivation behind at least a couple characters. The Illusive Man wants to control the Reapers to realize his ideal vision for the galaxy. According to the Catalyst, this is the reason why the Reapers exist in the first place: they prevent advanced organic life from creating synthetics that will ultimately wipe out all life in the galaxy; the Reapers cycle of destruction continues until someone (Shepard) is able to bring synthetic and organic life together into one unified form, creating true peace and the next stage of evolution.
  • Guild Wars: Beyond includes the Winds of Change storyline where the Ministry of Purity sets out to cleanse Cantha of Shiro's plague. As it progresses, they expand their focus to include the Am Fah and then the Jade Brotherhood. When you learn the Ministry is using a manifest of every Brotherhood member to hunt them down, you realize how far the Ministry is willing to go.

Web Animation

  • The Big Bad in the online Flash series Broken Saints tricks the US government and military into creating the instruments which they think will allow them to set up their version of Utopia. Instead, said instruments will actually trigger the Government Conspiracy's own destruction and set up the Big Bad's version of Utopia (the heroes somehow manage to step in at the last minute, stop both factions, and use the living Empathic Weapon the Big Bad created to set up their own version of Utopia).

Web Comics

  • In Dominic Deegan, Celesto Morgan—a seer who has become the Champion of Chaos—fiercely believes in this. Having been on the rough end of humanity a bit too often, he believes that "When an infection is too deep... amputation is the only solution."
  • Redcloak, the Goblin cleric from The Order of the Stick, has the goal of creating a world where goblins and goblinoids are not simply farms for XP. He's got two ways of doing this. The first is that he and Xykon establish control over the gate and the snarl, ruling the world and allowing the Dark One (the god of the goblins) to blackmail the other gods into doing what it wants. The second involves the snarl being released and destroying the entire multiverse, eating the souls of everyone and anyone in any of the planes, including the afterlife. The gods will be forced to recreate the world, but the Dark One will now have a say in how the world is made.
    • General Tarquin plans to bring the southern part of the Western Continent under his control by skillfully manipulating the three most powerful empires that rule it. Elan isn't comfortable with the deception involved, but Tarquin justifies it to himself by reasoning that he can end the wars which plague the area, killing tens of thousands each year.
  • The Varn Gene Mage from Terinu wants to restore the Varn Dominion. All that involves is the capture of the titular character and the persuasion of all the races that the Dominion had once enslaved to join up again. By force, if necessary.
  • The most recent[when?] arc in Fans is definitely going into that territory as a group of mystics called the Order of the Dragon plan to overthrow the world's governments in a "bloodless coup" by murdering the Aleph, the personification of the very first written language, thus destroying the concept of the written word itself. When Donna, arguably the least evil of this group of Knights Templar, is informed that roughly 6.5 billion people will die as a result of their actions, her response is "Some will survive." To make matters worse, they recruited Keith Feddyg, who's motivated by his own needs, which involve inflicting as much pain as possible on as many people as possible. Oh, and revenge against Ally. The remaining members range from vengeful psychopaths to pathetic losers. Whatta way to run Utopia!

Web Original

Billy: The fish rots from the head, they say, so my thinking is, why not cut off the head-
Penny: Of the human race?
Billy: It's not a perfect metaphor...

  • Doctor Steel wants to remake the world into a Utopian Playland—by force with the aid of giant robots, if necessary.

Western Animation

  • The city of Ba Sing Se in Avatar: The Last Airbender, when at last it is reached, is a stronghold that has withstood the Fire Nation for one hundred years, a haven for thousands of refugees. However, the price for this is the censorship, even from the king, that there is a war that has been waging for the past hundred years and that the Earth Kingdom is losing. Also, anyone who insists that there is a war is promptly and quietly kidnapped, brainwashed, and enslaved by the Dai Li militia.
    • Fire Lord Sozin started the century-long war with the aim of "sharing Fire Nation prosperity" with the other nations, in spite of warnings from his closest friend, Avatar Roku.
  • Justice League's Alternate Universe equivalents, the Justice Lords, did this to their world, taking over and imposing a metahuman-run utopia/dystopia. Most of the ends seem well worth the means, especially violating Lex Luthor's Joker Immunity and lobotomizing omnicidal maniacs, but the group quickly leaped off the slippery slope by getting rid of the right to vote or speak freely while arresting individuals for threatening to not pay for food. On the other hand, their world has no rape, murder, arson, or even litter. Unusually, this is one of the more even-handed examples, with both "Utopia" and "the means to it" being shown in fair measure. Fans of the show were left to wonder if, in a world where every prison's a Cardboard Prison, the Justice Lords might have had a point, and the Batmen even debate on it in the middle of the episode.
    • An example of this is Gotham. Justice League Batman's version looks like it came out of a pulp noir story, and Arkham is a run-down creepy Bedlam House. Justice Lord Batman's version looks identical to Metropolis, and Arkham looks like a perfectly normal psychiatric institution (if you excuse the fact that parts of it are staffed by lobotomized supervillains).
      • And people are arrested for making a scene at a restaurant. Can't forget that.

Real Life

  • Let's just say that many social, political, philosophical, and religious schools and movements believe in this on some level...
  • Communist leaders, or at least the earliest and most sincere ones, may fit this trope: they wanted to establish the dictatorship of the proletariat, persecute their opponents, and give huge power to the State, but saw this as a means to achieve an emancipating Utopia. In Stalin's USSR, it became the regime's normal way of working, so some wondered whether he betrayed the movement's original goals.
  • Some eugenicist scientists, especially the Nazi ones. Indeed, Nazis viewed themselves as preparing a special Utopia for German/Aryan people, from which the other races were excluded (or exploited, reduced to slavery). That's why this ideology, generally seen as inherently evil, racist, and murderous, provokes less empathy than the communist one, although both are totalitarian.
    • It's highly debatable whether any Nazis could be said to have had any kind of utopian vision - even one limited to German/Aryans. After all, most utopias aim for a time of perfect harmony and peace, and Hitler explicitly said that "war builds character; in general, there should be a new war every generation."
    • One little known fact about the Nazi's eugenic work was that many of the scientists who were put on trial after WWII for war crimes they committed in their research had received funding from charities like the Carnegie Institution to do the exact same kinds of research in the years leading up to the war. Additionally, much of the Nazi's eugenic work was inspired by techniques developed at Cold Spring Harbor in the USA during the early 1900s under similarly charitable funding. Many of the people who did horrible things while pursuing eugenics were not sociopaths, but people who understood too well the suffering of the less fortunate and wanted to create a world where people of all social orders did not have to suffer, regardless of the cost.
    • For that matter, eugenics didn't entirely die with the Nazis. The Swedes, of all people, were sterilizing the "unfit" for decades after VE day. ("Unfit" in this context included teenaged girls with slutty reputations.)
    • Forced sterilizations happened in the United States from 1907 through to 1981, as well as in many other western nations.
  • On this viewing session, scientology.org has two advertisements on this page, Utopia Justifies the Means (the third advertisement names Herbert W. Armstrong, "an early pioneer of radio and tele-evangelism"). Ironic.
    • Utopia for Scientologists is where everyone is a Scientologist, There Are No Therapists nor any of those undesirable Suppressive Persons, and freedom from hitchhiking alien ghosts brings super powers. Of course, if you can't comprehend the scilon technology to begin with, you're screwed (sorry, people with mental disabilities). I'm not sure what they'd do with all those SP's, but considering the "no more psychs" presentation contained a lot of explosive graphics....
      • Google the exact phrase "disposed of quietly, and without sorrow", and be enlightened. Or disgusted, take your pick. See also "R2-45".
  • By modern standards, Plato's Republic would qualify as this, since it supports a class-based dictatorship with philosopher-kings at the top of society, supported by a powerful military. Although very authoritarian, there are no slaves or discrimination between men and women.
    • Read the book again. There are slaves, completely outside the social pyramid, used essentially as living construction tools. And as for discrimination between men and women, while Plato's Utopia was, indeed, more equal than real Greek city-states, Plato didn't actually consider women equals of men—he just thought that if a woman had more talent for warring or ruling than for housework, she should be put in work matching that talent (and vice versa for a man who was better at housework). He didn't believe they could be as good or better than men in the same positions, however, and thought that the matter wouldn't come up very often. He did admit two girls to his school; the first one disguised herself as a boy to take the entrance examination.
      • It should be noted that at least one theory of The Republic is that it isn't intended to ever be realized, and that it is chiefly a means to allow Plato to explore the concept of justice.
  • Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine makes an analogy between two campaigns to achieve a "beautiful blank slate" through horribly destructive means.
    • In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Dr. Ewen Cameron, a highly-regarded psychiatrist, performed research into brainwashing for the CIA. His idea was that if one could destroy a person's current, flawed personality, primarily via sensory deprivation and electroshock, then a new, perfectly well-adjusted personality could be built on top of it. Minds, of course, do not work that way, and many of his patients were left with lifelong psychological problems.