You Have Outlived Your Usefulness

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

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

To show or remind the viewer how nasty the Big Bad or his Evil Minions are, a common trope is their habit of callously disposing of anyone who is no longer useful to their plans, whether it be an associate of an evil organization who has just concluded their useful function in the organization, or an outsider who the villain has coerced or tricked into carrying out part of their plan and is killed when the outsider has done what the villain has ordered.

It is often punctuated with words to the effect of "You have outlived your usefulness" or "you have served your purpose" before the murder.

This is often done as an excuse not to pay them, or to punish the minion for asking for a raise, especially when done right before the critical mission. A particularly callous villain may also do this to an underling who has been defeated, combining this trope with You Have Failed Me.... May also happen to a villain who thought he was the Big Bad, but forgot that Evil Is Not a Toy. More realistically, the victim in question may be privy to information that the villain doesn't want to get out—as the Pirates say: "Dead men tell no tales." Finally, sociopathic villains are notorious for viewing people as little more than tools to be used and then discarded once they've served their purpose, with this trope being perhaps the ultimate form of this callous attitude.

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

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

Compare You Have Failed Me... (when the executed underlings are killed because they didn't succeed), Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves, and The Uriah Gambit. Shoot the Builder is a subtrope. Contrast Can't Kill You - Still Need You. See also Villainous Demotivator and Even Mooks Have Loved Ones.

As a Death Trope, Spoilers ahead may be unmarked. Beware.

Examples of You Have Outlived Your Usefulness include:

Anime and Manga

  • In .hack Sign: Morganna attacks Tsukasa after Tsukasa brings Subaru to the hidden area where Aura was held. This too used an alternate phrase, "I don't need you anymore."
  • Mistress 9 does this to Kaolinite in the third season of Sailor Moon, which also happens to be the only season in which the "You Have Failed Me..." trope is not used. Of course, considering how nasty Kaolinite had been to Mistress 9's host body, Hotaru, this was also motivated by revenge.
  • Although no special line is used, this is the reason Captain Kuro tries to kill his entire crew in One Piece: he no longer needs them, and can't allow anyone who knows his true identity to live.
    • This also happened to Nico Robin when she was Miss All-Sunday, The Dragon for Baroque Works. Might be subverted, since she never intended to give her boss, Crocodile, the information he wanted anyway.
  • In Soukou no Strain, when Ralph finds the other Emily aboard the Libertad and knows that the Reliable Traitor is about to move against him, he throws a coup and kills the rest of Medlock's crew, only keeping her around until she too "serves her purpose".
  • In Zatch Bell, Gash's evil twin Zeon hires a demon named Baltro to kidnap Kiyomaro's father and lure Gash into a battle. When Baltro and his partner fail to burn Gash's book, Zeon promptly burns Baltro's, stating that all losers in battles must return to the demon world and that those are the rules.
  • Dragon Ball uses this quite often, mainly with Babidi, Frieza, and even Vegeta.
    • Vegeta even kills his longtime partner Nappa basically because of this, combining this with You Have Failed Me... after Nappa gets his ass kicked by Goku.
  • The homunculi from Fullmetal Alchemist are prolific perpetrators of this trope.
    • In one of the translations, Lust actually says this line to-a-T to Cornello in the first volume of the manga... Right before she impales his head with her ultimate spear.
    • A recent example of the "more useful dead" variation: The gold-toothed Alchemist was in charge of readying the five sacrifices need for the Promised Day. When he fails to turn Mustang into the last one, Wrath and Pride use him instead.
    • Father tries this on Hohenheim, Roy, Izumi and the Elric brothers after they have fulfilled their role as his "sacrifices". Luckily, Hohenheim is able to protect them all with the power of his philosopher's stone.
  • Used in Bleach when the main antagonist, Sosuke Aizen, betrays and (almost) coldly murders his loving subordinate Momo Hinamori, and attempts to do so to Rukia Kuchiki as well after noticing that she's still alive after the Hogyoku is extracted. Oh, and don't forget what he did to Halibel. After two of her higher-ranked fellow Espada had been defeated, Aizen just slashed her with his sword, claiming that she "was too weak to keep on fighting for him."
  • Zako Red in SD Gundam Force gets deactivated by Commander Sazabi as soon as he's finished helping the invasion of Neotopia commence. This is particularly stupid because, aside from Zako Red, Sazabi was more or less Surrounded by Idiots.
    • However, the show implies rather strongly that Zako Red is simply a drone operated by Sazabi to allow him to carry out his plans without revealing himself.
    • And it turns out the Zakos and their bumbling commanders are only a small iteration of the Dark Axis anyway, as shown by the Doga Commandos and the villains that appear in the second half of the series.
    • Later on, once the General, leader of the Dark Axis, developes the power to absorb gundams through a combination tractor beam/dimensional portal, Sazabi's superior Professor Gerbera decides there's no point in maintaining the alliance he had with Kibaomaru's forces.
  • Orochimaru of Naruto pulls this one on the two surviving members of the Sound genin team that was entered into the Chuunin Exams, after they lost their respective fights during the preliminaries. He sacrifices them and uses their corpses as vessels to bring back the First and Second Hokages of Konoha under his control, to fight the Third Hokage, his old teacher. Orochimaru and Sarutobi's respective reactions when the latter breaks the jutsu and sees who the sacrifices are are quite telling.
    • Unfortunately for Orochimaru, this tropes back to haunt him when he outlives his usefulness to Sasuke as soon as he feels he has learned all he can from him.
    • Sasuke also does this with Karin when she's held as a human shield by Danzo.
  • Nakago of Fushigi Yuugi does this to one of his fellow Seiryuu warriors after he receives the MacGuffin he was ordered to steal (although this is partly because the man's "human form" was killed, making him little more than a smart wolf).
  • Code Geass has its Anti-Hero protagonist do this with mind-controlled enemies. He does it to a fair few of his "allies" too, although never to their faces.
    • Then, as a subversion, his "allies" do it to HIM. They get away with it too, sort of.
    • At the beginning of R2 Lelouch is stripped of his memories and used in a plan to lure out C.C., so when the Britannian soldiers find C.C., they plan to kill Lelouch since he's fulfilled his purpose.
  • In My-HiME, the Obsidian Lord is planning to do this with his First District followers, including the Omniscient Council of Vagueness, but Shizuru, going on a rampage fueled by her feelings for Natsuki, beats him to it.
  • This is common with Szilard from Baccano!, who considers anybody to be disposable including hommunculi created from his own cells, to misfit gangsters given an incomplete immortality serum JUST to ensure they are easy to dispose of- if you think that's a contradiction, you need to watch the show.
    • Huey also views the Lemeurs, including his own doting daughter as this.
  • Fuuma does this to Kusanagi in the X 1999 movie after the latter gets his arm dismembered by the protagonists. The result is a Rain of Blood. The manga and anime versions of Fuuma do similar things.
  • In Death Note, this is is the fate of almost everyone used by Light Yagami, even if they are close to him, so that he can safely cover his tracks after they had served their purpose. Also the fate of many pawns that served under The Mafia group of Mello, especially when they were trying to get the titular Artifact of Doom. Surprisingly, the last use of the trope in the story wasn't done by either of those two but by Ryuk on Light himself because Light had been permanently stopped from killing -- reminding us that, despite his personality as a lovable goof, Ryuk is still a Shinigami to the core.
  • In the first season of Slayers, Eris created a copy of Rezo after the real one died. She blames the original's death on Lina and her friends and tries to kill them by unlocking "Rezo's Legacy". Eris released the power of Zanifar, which is absorbed into Copy Rezo. No sooner after this, Copy Rezo kills Eris because she no longer serves a purpose for him.
  • In Mahou Sensei Negima, despite having successfully held off the Ala Rubra till the ceremony to bring about The End of the World as We Know It was over, the Big Bad in a sneak attack shot both Nagi and Primum through the chest with a high piercing Death Ray. This wasn't due to Primum being a casualty in the way, because of the way the two were facing: Nagi's back turned to the direction of the on-coming attack. By the way that Nagi had Neck Lifted Primum, he likely watched the Black Cloaked villain as the beam was fired, smiling as it did.
    • And then he did the exact same thing with Fate and Negi, after Fate had decided to stop fighting Negi.
  • In Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, Okonogi gives Takano this Treatment near the end of Matsubayashi-hen after it becomes clear her plans to Trigger Protocol 34 have been completely foiled. Complete with a Hannibal Lecture about how Tokyo never really cared about her research and was only using her a pawn. He than hands her a gun with a single bullet and tells her to blow her brains out. And if not for the intervention of Hanyuu that is what she most likely would have done. It is safe to assume that she does not fare better in the other worlds either.
    • This is an especially unusual example because Takano is supposed to be the Big Bad.
  • In Umineko no Naku Koro ni,the same Okonogi from Higurashi is eventually revealed to have been working with the main Sumadera branch to eliminate Kasumi and her guards. Because Ange had at that point become a liability and could become a witness, Okonogi ordered Amakusa to kill Ange as soon as he finished off Kasumi and her guards.
  • In Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, General Septem is tricked by Lady Une on behalf of OZ to give a live speech (aboard a plane fleeing the attack of the New Edwards Base) condemning peace with the space colonies and reaffirming Earth's resolve to the war. After ending the broadcast, Lady Une calmly and politely informs the General that his "services were no longer required," immediately before opening a hatch under his seat. Then shooting him in the head on his way down.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam 00's (f*cking) Ribbons Almark does this quite a bit.
  • Orikakan gets this from Niwe in Utawarerumono in the form of an arrow through the neck.
  • Genkishi from Katekyo Hitman Reborn had this happen to him seemingly just to show that people can actually die.
    • And Xanxus kept apparently doing this to all of his underlings whenever they lost matches with Tsuna' guardians, laughing about how they're trash... only for it to be revealed that not a single one of them actually did die.
  • Alphard from Canaan simply decides to discard Liang Qi by deliberately leaving her behind in a building that is about to be bombed.
  • This is standard procedure for Johan in Monster. Anyone who's come into contact with him for whatever reason tend to die shortly after their role has been played.
  • In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS, Due, after killing Regius tells Zest that his "usefulness and revenge are at an end". In an inversion of the typical result of this trope, Zest kills her.
  • In Pokémon Special, Archie rewards his very loyal and very competent henchman, who successfully managed to steal the Blue Orb for him and is now inside a submarine, asking for a hand up, by sending the sub off after removing the device that equalized the pressure inside, effectively leaving the poor guy for dead. Apparently it would have been too much of an effort to pull him up. The henchman barely manages to make it to the surface but sadly, he goes in denial, refusing to believe that his boss abandoned him, and fights on to make sure no one stops Kyogre.
    • In the anime, we have Paul. When a Pokemon of his doesn't perform up to his expectations, it is released back into the wild.
      • Cyrus is just as big an example, ignoring his loyal Admins to go into the world he intended to create.
      • Not as extreme an example, but in Pokemon: The First Movie, Mewtwo has put the local Nurse Joy under mind control to act as a sort of greeter to the people he has lured onto New Island, and upon revealing himself and sending one of the guests who tried to attack him flying through the room, he tells Nurse Joy her usefulness has ended and lifts her from the mind control. Granted, Mewtwo was more of an Affably Evil Pokemon than a Bad Boss, but this is still an example.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's: The Three Emperors of Yliaster do this to Jeager and Team Catastrophe.
    • In the original Yu-Gi-Oh manga [dead link], Bandit Keith does this with Zygor, Sid, and Bonz, when Bonz loses in a duel.
    • And in the Pyramid of Light movie, after Seto Kaiba has done enough damage to Yami Yugi and afterwards attempts and fails to destroy his Pyramid of Light card with his Blue-Eyes Shining Dragon, Anubis appears and ambushes him, grabbing him by the head, tossing him aside and knocking him unconscious before taking his place in the duel with Yami, that while saying, "You have served my purpose well, little worm. But You Have Outlived Your Usefulness!"
  • Digimon Adventure: Upon his rebirth, Venom Myotismon promptly devours Demidevimon, his sole remaining loyal minion. He also does this quite famously to Arukenimon in Digimon Adventure 02.
    • This trope is actually pretty common for Digimon villains.
  • Emperor Barodius, the third Big Bad from Bakugan was a big fan of this as well as You Have Failed Me.... If he didn't kill you, he'd brainwash you instead.
    • Mag Mel, the Big Bad after Barodius, outright told his Co-Dragons when he created them that the moment they were no longer of use to him, their lives would end. When Mistress Sellon actually does outlive her usefulness, he promptly kills her in an absolutely chilling way as she's pleading for him to spare her, then eats her energy to fuel himself. He then does the exact same thing to Anubias in the next episode.
  • Subverted in Macross Frontier. Various baddies attempt to do so a couple of times, but it always fails.
  • In the anime adaptation of Ai no Kusabi, this overlaps with Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves. Iason has successfully used former Bison gang member Kirie to sell out and destroy the gang in a Batman Gambit. When Kirie shows up to collect his reward money, he's instead taken by an android posing as Iason. He's not killed but his mind is altered and he's turned into an unthinking and obedient pet.
  • Windaria The Big Bad quotes the trope name when speaking about Alan.
  • In chapter 81 of Gunslinger Girl, Giacomo Dante has been captured and the Turin facility secured, then tanks roll in, PFC Aprea is arrested and the SWA is being told to surrender to the military. Turns out, the Prime Minister now seeks to pin the whole incident on the SWA and get them labelled an anti-government organization.
  • In Claymore, Priscilla tells Raki that he has outlived his usefulness to her and that she is hungry after seven years of not eating... and saves his life from the Destroyer's rods.

Comic Books

  • Tintin's archnemesis, Roberto Rastapopoulos, shows his worst in Flight 714. Along with his enemies/victims, he had plans to kill every one of his minions (with the possible exception of Allan, his dragon) before his master plan was through. He doesn't get to carry out said plans, though.
  • The Joker from Batman often does this with his henchmen after he feels they have fulfilled their purpose. Or even if they haven't, really.
    • Joker also repeatedly tries to do this to Harley Quinn - in part because he does have feelings for her and hates having those feelings. He regularly fails and she regularly comes back to him, and as time went on he stopped doing it... so often.
    • He also does this often to allies, teammates and partners he doesn't particularly like - adaptations have made this a character trait: after getting what he wanted he tends to screw over the poor fools who thought it would be a good idea to work with him:
      • Batman 1989: Has him pretend to work with the mobsters of Gotham, and then just decide to kill them all on a whim.
      • Batman the Animated Series has him do this to Lex Luthor - granted, Luthor tried to kill him, but it's implied that Joker knew that would happen and had been planning this: this being stealing Luthor's prototype flying wing and blow up half of Metropolis.
      • In The Batman he does this twice: first against some big game hunter who hired him to steal an endangered species of leopard for him to hunt. Joker brings him the leopards, receives a pair of hyenas in return, and then immediately gasses the hunter so he can use his range to hunt Batman. Later, he eventually does this to Wrath and Scorn, who fail to realize that just because they think they're helping criminals doesn't mean Joker wants them to do his job for him.
      • The Dark Knight has him do this, again, to the entire mob, who hire him to take out Batman only to wish they hadn't as Joker's machinations ruin and eventually kill them - the only one who doesn't get killed by Joker is Maroni, who gets Two-Face set on him instead.
        • And before that, he does it to the clown gang.
      • Under the Red Hood has him do this to Black Mask - who hires him to kill the Red Hood. In order to get Hood's attention, he ties up the mobsters of Gotham, both the ones that work for Hood and Black Mask himself, and set them all on fire. Luckily Batman shows up this time.
  • Watchmen The Big Bad does this to the people who helped him with various parts of his master plan, so they won't be able to piece together what really happened. If it helps, he feels really, really sorry about having to do it. Honest. Applies to The Movie too.
  • In Sonic Universe's "30 Years Later" storyline, King Shadow breaks Lien-Da's armband, causing her to fade into the time-line after she rescues him from stasis. This seems to be because she questioned releasing Tikhaos
  • Junior from Secret Six offers a $20 million bounty for the ultimate get out of jail free card (as well as the heads of the people hiding it). Junior's henchmen were shocked at the amount:

Junior: Money is nothing. Card is only thing that matters. Plus, will kill whoever brings it to me. Substantial savings.

  • The Star Sapphire gem once possessed a girl named Krystal so it could have a temporary body while it searched for its preferred host, Carol Ferris. It breaks into Carol's jet, Body Surfs into Carol, mocks Krystal as an inferior specimen unworthy of Hal Jordan's love, then flies away. Sadly, the confused, naked girl barely has enough time to ask what is going on before the jet crashes.
  • In the comic of The Incredibles, this is what happens to Underminer when he objects to Xerek using him and the Incredibles-decorated mecha as a punching bag in a large scheme to discredit the supers.
  • An unusual example comes from the twisted relationship between Dark Jedi Asajj Ventress and the warlord Osika Kirske who killed her parents and her Jedi Master. After becoming a powerful dark sider and conquering her war-torn planet, she killed most of the warlords but spared Kirske and locked him in the deepest part of her dungeons. When Obi-Wan and the ARC trooper Alpha escaped the prison, they encountered Kirske, who accompanied them and explained his relationship to Asajj. He added that the most likely reason that he was alive was that Ventress needed an archnemesis, otherwise she would have no one to hate. Unfortunately for Kirske, Obi-Wan had messed with Ventress enough by this point that he seemed to have taken Kirske's place as most hated enemy, and when the trio encountered her she beheaded the warlord without a second thought.
  • In Sin City, Manute had a mole spying on the girls of Old Town for him. Once she gave him the information he needed, he ordered her killed. The mole does die, though not at the hands of the bad guys, but at the hands of Dwight and the girls of Old Town after they rescue their leader Gail, who the mole sold out.
  • In Crisis on Infinite Earths, Brainiac and Lex Luthor are assembling an army of supervillains. Alexi Luthor, the Earth 2 counterpart of Lex Luthor, demands to know why Lex should be in command given he is just as smart. Brainiac responds that Alexi is correct and that the venture does not require two Luthors, then promptly vaporizes Alexi.
  • In the french comic book Les Légendaires, the character Shaki warns the Anti-Villain General Rasga about this concerning his alliance with the Evil Sorcerer Darkhell. His warning almost immediatly proves correct when Darkhell indeed betrays Rasga two pages later:

General Rasga: Darkhell, what are you doing ? We are allies!
Darkhell: You should have listened the warrior Shaki... I have no allies. Just tools I throw out when they are useless.


  • Backfires in Rango when the mayor attempts to dispose of Rattlesnake Jake
  • In Despicable Me, a downplayed version occurs where Gru was originally going to leave the girls at an amusement park after they unknowingly helped him steal the Shrink Ray from Vector. After enjoying the day with them, he decides to change his mind.
  • In Superman II, Lex Luthor aids the bad guys by giving them information on Superman. Being the epitome of people who are so powerful they wouldn't need his help, they threaten to kill him multiple times when he's outlived his usefulness, which Lex only manages to avert by revealing something new. Eventually, he manages to help them so many times that they finally reward him with what he wants - only, by this time, he's proven to be such a Reliable Traitor that Superman turns it around into a Batman Gambit.
  • The villains of Live Free or Die Hard are quite fond of this trope. They execute just about everyone they have contact with once they're through with them.
    • Are you talking about just the main bad guy, or do his henchmen do this as well? Cause if not, John McClane should've had no trouble making it through the building.
    • Arguably, Hans Gruber's willingness to blow up the Nakatomi building's roof when Karl was up there chasing McClane might have been an earlier example of this trope, as the original film's Dragon had become so obsessed with avenging his brother that he was becoming an unmanagable liability to Gruber's plans.
  • In X Men the Last Stand includes a scene where Mystique, Magneto's most loyal lieutenant, gets depowered... and Magneto immediately abandons her to the cops as "not one of us anymore".
    • It makes a bit more sense when you consider the original ending of the movie. When Magneto is at the park bench at the end, Mystique was supposed to be sitting next to him, implying that Magneto's rejection of her and her subsequent betrayal were both actually staged to lower the defenses of Alcatraz Island later.
  • Surprisingly, the Sith mastermind Darth Sidious in the Star Wars series only does this twice, and both in Revenge of the Sith. Count Dooku doesn't realize how expendable he is until Sidious orders his replacement, the future Darth Vader, to execute him (though to be fair, the rules state that there can only be two Sith). Then, once the Separatist leaders have done their job, Sidious informs them that he is sending Vader to "take care of them." Naturally, this means Vader locks the door and slaughters them. Vader's sweetheart Padmé probably would've also been discarded by Sidious, if Vader hadn't accidentally done that himself.
    • He does it a third...or is that first?...time in Return of the Jedi, when he urges Luke to finish off Vader and take his place at the Emperor's side.
    • Three times in Revenge of the Sith: the book states that he would have killed Grievous if he had won against Obi-Wan.
    • It sounds strange, but it's part of the Sith doctrine: kill the other if you can form a stronger duo without him. A Sith apprentice is fully aware that their master may replace them someday… Reciprocally, as a master, if your apprentice doesn't plan to kill you, you are not doing your master's job.
    • Sidious did this to his master, Darth Plagueis, after his election to the chancellorship was secured. The Expanded Universe establishes that this was done with force lightning and a "The Reason You Suck" Speech.
  • In the movie Mystery Men, Casanova Frankenstein kills his own men for no other reason than to show that he is so evil.
    • That and he wasn't willing to wait for them to get out of the way before activating the booby trap that would prevent the advancing heroes from reaching him.
  • James Bond films are fond of this trope.
    • A View to a Kill: After his workers finish setting up a plan, Max Zorin not only detonates the explosives early while people are still in the caves, but then proceeds to take out an assault rifle and gun down all the survivors.
    • Tomorrow Never Dies: During the standoff on Carver's ship, James Bond is holding Big Bad Elliot Carver's tech genius, Gupta, hostage at gunpoint in order to get him to release Wai Lin, who Carver himself has taken hostage. After Gupta confirms that Carver's stolen missiles are ready to fire on Beijing, Carver promptly kills him, declaring, "It seems you have outlived your contract."
    • However, Licence to Kill averted it: When The Dragon ask why they don't just kill the corrupt cop, the Big Bad insists that loyalty is important to him, and pays up the bribe. The guy does die, but at Bond's hands.
    • In Thunderball, Angelo Palazzi, the impersonator, asked for a raise immediately before his mission of stealing the nuclear warhead. His boss was not pleased.
    • The Spy Who Loved Me. After Dr. Bechmann and Professor Markovitz completed the submarine tracking system for Stromberg, he called them in, congratulated them and told them he was transferring $20 million dollars to their Swiss bank accounts. After he sent them off in a helicopter, he blew it up by remote control and sent a message canceling the money transfer.
    • Auric Goldfinger thanks his various criminal counterparts for helping him smuggle in all the necessary bits and pieces for his nefarious scheme, then proceeds to kill them all. Well, all except the one who wanted out. He kills him, too, of course, but that's a different trope.
    • Diamonds Are Forever. After Blofeld gets enough diamonds to create his Laser Kill Sat, he sends his assassins Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd to execute the members of his diamond smuggling ring.
  • The Dark Knight has an astounding example of this in the opening sequence, where the Joker has actually instructed his men to do this to each other.
    • On a related note, in the 1989 Batman, the Joker responds to his own failure by requesting a handgun from his most loyal psycho-henchman Bob, only to shoot Bob point-blank for no reason at all.
      • Well really, why didn't Bob tell him Batman had one of those... things?
  • Subverted in pretty much the only clever moment in the |Dungeons and Dragons film. Damodar begs Profion to take out the parasite in his head as promised, and the spell Profion casts knocks him away and to the floor, apparently killing him. However, Damodar then gets right back up as the parasite leaves.
    • Though in the Syfy sequel it turned out he was cursed and became undead.
  • In Angels & Demons, The Dragon is retired with prejudice after having dealt with or tried to kill, in the fourth case anyway the four cardinals. This is especially conspicuous after it was revealed his client institution was a long-term repeat customer.

You know, when they call me, and they all call me, it is so important to them that I know what they ask is the Lord's will.

  • In Firestorm, Randall Alexander Shaye systematically kills each of the convicts who helped him escape once they's stopped being useful/become a liability.
  • In the third Pirates of the Caribbean movie, The Big Bad Lord Beckett orders the execution of Elizabeth's father because he hasn't got any use for him anymore now that he gained full authority and the ex-governor got too curious about the MacGuffin.
  • In XXX, the villains test out a deadly nerve gas on the scientists who developed it for them.
  • In Time Bandits, Kevin demands that Evil call off his skull-headed monsters or he'll destroy the map. Evil replies, "Very well. I have no more need of them," and destroys all the monsters, then goes a step further and kills all his remaining minions.
  • Constantine. Big Bad Gabriel disposes of his ally Balthasar after he completes his mission.
  • In The Transporter, the 3 bank robbers at the beginning of the film are quietly reminded by the transporter that the conditions to using his car as a getaway car is that there is to be 3 people in the car at one time....they failed to realize he meant the driver as well. So, one of the bank robbers shoots another in the head and tosses him out the door. They get caught anyway, but only some time after the transporter has successfully evaded the police and delivered them to their drop-off point.
  • The Avengers 1998. After Sir August's Weather Control Machine is finished he murders the scientists who helped him build it.
  • The Wild Geese: the mercenaries recruited by Matheson to rescue Limbani become redundant once Matheson concludes his mining contract. Rather than recall the mercenaries - who would need to be paid! - Matheson recalls their escape plane, leaving them stranded in hostile territory.
  • The film version of Clear and Present Danger has the drug cartel spy Felix Cortez snap Moira Wolfe's neck after getting from her the information his employer desired.[1]
  • Clu does this to Castor and Gem in Tron: Legacy.
  • In Stahlnetz: PSI, two brothers kidnap a little girl for ransom. Then, once they record her voice to prove she is alive, one brother, Larry, reveals that he intends to kill the girl, as she had seen them. And when the other brother objects, Larry beats him up and locks him together with the girl to die
  • In A Fairly Odd Movie: Grow Up, Timmy Turner!, Hugh J. Magnate does this to Mr. Crocker.
  • Quentin Turnbull does this to Adleman Lusk in Jonah Hex. Lusk says that he will hang if Turnbull's scheme fails and Turnbull promises him that he will not hang.
  • Subverted in Captain America the First Avenger as a minor Pet the Dog moment for the villain. When Dr. Zola notices that there's only enough room in the escape craft for one, it seems as though Red Skull is leaving him to die in the self-destructing base. But nope, Red Skull hands him the keys to his personal Cool Car and tells him not to scratch the paint job. Oh, but surely there's a bomb in the car. Right? Again, nope; Zola just starts the car and drives off to safety.
    • A later scene plays this straight with Red Skull disintegrating a HYDRA officer for failing to stop Captain America from blowing up their huge tank.

HYDRA Officer: We fought to the last man!
Red Skull: Evidently not.
(The Skull fires his Tesseract-powered gun at the officer, killing him)

Megatron: "It's time to eliminate loose ends."
Soundwave: (As newspaper clippings of dead NASA employees from the past decades appear onscreen.) "Laserbeak: Kill them all."

  • Non-fatal example in the first Spy Kids movie: After Alexander Minion gets the third brain, and reveals himself to be the film's real Big Bad, he has Floop (the guy who thought he was controlling everything) locked up in a virtual prison.
  • In the 2nd Sherlock Holmes movie, Irene Adler is quickly killed off because of this.
  • In Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Ivan Ooze commands the brainwashed citizens of Angel Grove to return to the construction site he was freed from and leap off the tall cliff there after construction of his Ecto-Morphicon Titans is done. It's implied he did this to the last group of people to do the same when the machines were built. It's subverted, though, since the kids of Angel Grove are able to hold them back long enough for the Rangers to defeat Ooze and break the trance.


  • In Terry Pratchett's Hogfather, the psycho killer assassin Mr. Teatime always does this, even to hostages and bribees, creeping out other guys who only "won't hesitate to kill anybody between them and some gold." He's described as being one of the rare literal examples of "someone who will kill you as soon as look at you".
    • In another Discworld story, The Truth, a pair of villains plan to kill their Lord Vetinari look-alike once "his face no longer fits". Luckily, he is rescued in time.
    • The villain in Making Money also does this, thereby enabling Vetinari to deduce his plan from the string of bodies left behind.
    • In Interesting Times Lord Hong has Two Fire Herb killed after he's done with the Resistance. However, because Two Fire Herb had enough foresight to ask for a promise that Hong would neither write or say an order for his execution, Lord Hong makes an origami man. Without a head.
    • And in Mort, the Duke (a dab hand with poisons) catches the antidote-dosed King Olerve off-guard by simply hiring an assassin with a crossbow and a fast horse. Death assures the King's ghost that the assassin's horse isn't fast enough: He allowed the Duke to provide him with a packed lunch.
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Voldemort kills Snape because he believed that Snape needed to die at his hand in order to gain control of the Elder Wand. Ironically, Voldemort failed to notice the slightly greater crime of continually betraying him for the last eighteen years.
    • He also kills Bertha Jorkins in the fourth book because she is of no use to him anymore.
    • "Kill the spare." from that one too.
      • That one is less 'You've out lived your usefulness' and more 'you're there.'
  • In Dune, Baron Vladimir Harkonnen has Yueh's wife kidnapped to coerce him into betraying the house of Atreides, then "frees" his wife and "reunites" him with her, because "he always keeps his promises". (However, Yueh had already guessed the Baron's intentions and planned a posthumous revenge.)
    • In a variation, Baron Harkonnen—after surviving an assassination attempt by his nephew and baronial heir Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen—reaches an agreement in which he will forgive this attempt on his life if his nephew agrees to wait until the Baron feels that his heir is properly prepared to take the throne, at which time he will step aside willingly (a sort of "I Have Outlived My Usefulness").
  • In a particularly cruel example, Raistlin Majere does this to Crysania near the end of Dragonlance Legends, telling her, "Farewell, Revered Daughter. I need you no longer."
  • O Henri: "Boulivard cannot carry two."
  • The planet Despayre in the Star Wars Expanded Universe, as depicted in the novel "Death Star", and before that, the game "X-Wing". (scroll to 2:45)
  • The octospiders in Gentry Lee Arthur C. Clarke's sequels to Rendezvous With Rama are good guys who do this. To themselves, voluntarily.
  • In Graham McNeill's Warhammer 40,000 Ultramarines novel Nightbringer, after Vedden and his men foment a riot, the ornithoptors they thought would extract them opened fire on them. Then Honan, whose home the attack had been launched from, complained to the conspirators, who handed him over for torture. Later, after de Valtos has awoken the Nightbringer, it kills him and several of the Dark Eldar, who were awakening it because they thought it would help them live forever.
  • In the George Orwell novel Animal Farm, Old Major names this trope as one of the chief evils committed by man against animals, citing that "the very instant that our usefulness has come to an end we are slaughtered with hideous cruelty," in addition to naming several examples of such—the big draft horse Boxer being sold to the knacker's to have his throat cut and his remains boiled down for the foxhounds the very day his great muscles lose their power, and the dogs being drowned in a pond when they become old and toothless. When Napoleon takes over the farm, when he has Boxer sent to the knacker's after he is injured and no longer able to work, that is when the audience knows that he has become no better than Farmer Jones, who the animals overthrew early in the book.
  • In James Swallow's Warhammer 40,000 novel Deus Sanguinius, when Sachiel realizes the truth, Inquisitor Stele kills him to foment a battle, and also to get rid of him.
  • In the Dale Brown novel Warrior Class, Big Bad Pavel Kazakov threatens this some times and eventually goes through with it.
    • In Edge of Battle Comandante Veracruz tries to do this to Zakharov, prompting an Enemy Mine.
  • In Tom Clancy's novel The Sum of All Fears, the terrorist Big Bad does this twice in the course of his plot to nuke the United States. First, he has the East German nuclear physicist who helps them build their bomb executed once it's been completed. Then, he does the same thing to the American collaborator who helps them deliver it. In a memorable subversion, however, the physicist is killed before he can impart a crucial piece of information that causes the bomb's yield to be much lower than intended, providing the clue by which the U.S. is able to unravel the plot.
    • Played brutally straight in Dead or Alive by the terrorist group, who kills all but two people who worked with them while they were setting up for their attacks. The two exceptions were the prostitute hired to service the group's leader and the woman who was extracting the information from the Yucca Flats employee.
  • In Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, the Big Bad Storm King rather casually obliterates Evil Sorcerer Pryrates after the latter is finished summoning him back into Osten Ard from his exile in undeath. At least, in this case, he has a justification: Pryrates tries to pull a Starscream on him but forgets that Evil Is Not a Toy. And in all fairness, the Storm King did warn him that he would be first among mortals.
  • In The War of the Flowers Anton Hellebore does this to the Remover, or so he thinks. Unusually his father is very unhappy about this as the Remover was not only a very useful mercenary, but also owned numerous valuable magical artifacts that Anton burned.
  • The Big Bad in the last Empire From the Ashes book does this so much it's almost like a Running Gag by the end. Sometimes, the "usefulness" was simply setting this situation up for other minions! This comes back to bite him in the ass big time, though it takes longer than one might expect.
  • In Eclipse, Jasper recounts his history as a member of a Vampire Newborn Army. Newborns are useful in their first year after being turned, because they are super strong, but after their strength wanes, they are normally killed by their masters.
  • Big Bad Sarapen from Lonely Werewolf Girl has a human minion who is under the impression that Sarapen will turn him into a Werewolfe if he performs a certain task. Since Werewolves are born not bit in these books, he gets this trope instead. Rewarded as a traitor to his species deserves.
  • In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian novel The Hour of the Dragon, Valerius knows Amalric will kill him as soon as the trope came into play, and so works hard on Taking You with Me.
  • In the Left Behind prequel books, Marilena Carpathia, the mother of the future Antichrist Nicolae Carpathia, was killed off when Nicolae, still a child, was old enough to be cared for by his mentor Viv Ivins. His two biological fathers, who were living together off payments from the corporation that funded the genetic project that brought forth Nicolae, were later killed off.
    • In fact, this pretty much happens to anyone within Nicolae's close circle of friends and associates in the Global Community.
  • Zandramas, the Big Bad of The Malloreon, does this approximately fifty times in five books. Had to catch a ship? Sink it as soon as you're off. Don't need an escort any more? Break their legs and leave them for the lions. While Zandramas had a lot of bad habits, this was the one she indulged in most often.
  • In Death: When there's a partnership of two bad guys, you can be reasonably sure one of them will kill the other and state this trope.
  • This was mentioned as a common habit of Isane Isard in the X Wing Series. If one of her agents continually succeeds, he would eventually suffer from You Have Outlived Your Usefulness. If her agents fail, however, they will either face You Have Failed Me... or be killed by the people they were acting against. This caused loyalty issues in those subordinates smart enough to figure this out.
  • In Blonde Genius by J. T. Edson, cat burglar Gus Saunders is ejected from a plane without a parachute when after he has served The Syndicate's purpose by robbing Bekinsop's Academy.
  • Not This August (1955) by C.M. Kornbluth is about a Soviet conquest of the United States in 1965. Before occupation troops arrive in a small town, two of the main character's friends proudly admit to him that they're Communists who were spies for the Soviet Union. Shortly after arriving, the Soviet troops take these two into a basement and execute them. Skilled subversives are not people the new regime wants to have in the area it rules.

Live-Action TV

  • In the True Blood episode "Release Me", Maryann has her servant Daphne put to death with a ritual dagger after thanking her for her efforts and service.
  • In Smallville: Jor-El's disposal of Kara after Clark discovers she is not actually Kryptonian. Instead of the normal phrase, he uses "She served her purpose."
  • The same style is used in 24, especially when it comes to civilians they kidnap that have a useful skill they can exploit. It always ends badly for the poor civilians.
  • In the movie The Castle of Fu Manchu (as seen on Mystery Science Theater 3000), this happens twice. When the bad guys capture the titular castle, Fu Manchu graciously thanks the mercenaries he's hired to help him overthrow it—just before ordering their execution. Later on, a messenger delivers some news to the leader of the mercenaries. His "reward" is to get murdered off-camera. Given how stoned the mercenary leader looked while he was receiving the news, one can only hope he didn't immediately forget it.
  • In an episode of The Persuaders!, Tony Curtis' character manages to recruit an actor impersonating a dead millionaire by warning him of what might happen when his employers don't need to hide the millionaire's death anymore.
  • The Sheriff of Nottingham, in the new BBC series of Robin Hood, does this a lot.
  • Subverted in Stargate Atlantis: Michael, a villain known to have a low opinion of humanity in general takes a gun away from a clone he created and tells him that he's "served his purpose"... then draws his own stun weapon and uses that to shoot him. It's possible he was just being cruel, though; the clone was already dying.
    • Played completely straight, and even stated word for word by a Wraith queen in regards to Todd the Wraith in another episode.
  • Belatedly subverted in Farscape; in an early episode, Crais nonchalantly killed a subordinate so no one else would know he had been recalled. When this was uncovered by his superiors much later, it was his downfall.
    • Subverted again later. In the three-part episode "Look at the Princess", a palace servant betrays Crichton to Scorpius. Scorpius asks his lieutenant to "give her something special", and everyone expects this trope to occur. Instead, the servant dies because Crichton triggers automatic defenses. Later, we learn that Scorpius is a reasonably honorable man who treats his underlings well when they do their jobs, which means he probably did mean to give her something special.
  • Doctor Who:

Rose: You didn't have to kill him!
Dalek: Neither did we need him alive.

    • That wasn't a minion, of course.
    • The Sontarans kill their own brainwashed soldiers and the Cybermen kill their own programmed workhouse owners.
      • The cybermen have even turned the statement that I Lied before they "convert" whoever helped them into a catch phrase... though arguably from their perspective that's not killing them. (Ask the victim, of course...)
    • "Victory of the Daleks" has the last three Daleks (made out of whatever hodge-podge genetic elements Davros could scrabble together) activate a progenitor device that creates new-model, redesigned Daleks... who, of course, decide to exterminate their saviors, because they're inferior. The three Daleks are perfectly okay with this and even agree with the new Daleks' assessment because... well, they're Daleks.
    • Partners In Crime: The Adiposian royal family decides to let their nanny go when she has Outlived her Usefulness.
    • In "Pyramids of Mars", the first thing Sutekh's Dragon does on arriving is dispose of the minion who did all the preliminary work.

Namin: Master, spare me. Spare me. I am a true servant of the great Sutekh.
Dragon: I am the servant of Sutekh. He needs no other. [kills him]

    • In "The Wedding of River Song", the Silence kill Madame Kovarian, not because of a specific failure, but because the best way to get at their enemies would happen to also kill her, and they hate their enemies more than they need her.
    • In "The End of Time", the Big Bad tells the Master that the moment his plan is complete, the Master will be killed. Unfortunately, he says so before the plan is anything like complete, and ends up on the receiving end of a Taking You with Me.
  • Used in an episode of CSI. Three people work together rob a casino. One is killed by his partners at the scene. Another is killed sometime later. The third one gets killed too, but not because of this trope.
    • Another episode has several Monster Fangirls show up to support his bid for freedom. In the end, one woman helps him escape, but as she's gushing about their new life together, she's killed by another woman.
  • Narrowly averted in Heroes: Arthur Petrelli says "I think you may have outlived your usefulness" to Linderman, who's savvy enough to take the hint and stop slacking. (Oh, and betray Arthur by breaking his mind-control on Angela.)
  • A woman kidnaps geniuses on Fringe so she can get them to finish a formula. At the end, she gives the formula to a mysterious henchman, who tests it. The test successful, she has just enough time to stare in awe and exclaim it's amazing before the henchman pulls a gun and shoots her.
  • In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the Dominion used the Cardassians as help in invading Alpha Quadrant. And then it switched to the Breen. And it was planning to betray them, too.
    • The Dominion is also in the habit of executing Jem'Hadar soldiers as soon as they show signs of insubordination, conscience, honour, or really anything other than fanatical devotion to the Founders.
    • The Next Generation episode "Starship mine" also contains an instance of this. Kelsey, the leader of a terrorist group trying to steal the highly instable toxic waste of Enterprise's engine core, shoots one of her mooks after learning from him how to remove the uranium trilithium from its container.
  • Supernatural: In "It's the Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester", Samhain does this to the witch who raised him. Not a nice way to reward several hundred years of summoning.
    • And in season five, the demon Crowley helps the Winchesters in trying to stop the Apocalypse because he believes Lucifer is going to pull this trope on the demons once he's won. He's right.
  • In The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Terminators typically dispose of human subordinates this way once their objectives are completed, usually to prevent them from talking about sensitive information. At one point, Cameron uses a man and his sister to find information on the Turk, on the promise that she would help them deal with The Mafiya goons out to kill him. However, once she has the information she abandons them to be killed, since they serve no further purpose to her, and she doesn't have anything else invested in their survival.
  • Ronnie's final fate in The Shield.
  • Battlestar Galactica plays this straight with Admiral Cain, shown in its full detail in the Razor flashback: during an attack on a Cylon staging ground, a large amount of Raiders jump in but Cain still orders her Viper compliment to launch in what is a blatant violation of her earlier promise of not sacrificing her underlings in a mad quest for revenge. Her XO calls her out on it, to lethal consequences.

Belzen: This is exactly what you said we wouldn't do. Even if we succeed, is this really worth the lives and planes what it'd cost?
Cain: Mr. Belzen, are you refusing to carry out my orders?
Belzen: Sir, I cannot in good conscience obey that.
Cain: Mr. Belzen, give me your sidearm...
Belzen: Sir?
Cain: I said, give me your sidearm! NOW!!!
(Belzen turns over his weapon, she immediately shoots him in the head with it in front of the entire crew)
Fisk: Gods...!
Cain: Colonel Fisk... Colonel FISK! (Fisk steps up) You are now my XO.

  • In an episode of The Legend Of William Tell, a summoned demon overhears two mooks discussing that the sorcerer will unsummon it when it has served its purpose. It's not happy about that. After the heroes have escaped, they discuss with the Big Good that they were lucky that the demon betrayed its master... at which point the Big Good polymorphs into a Mook before their eyes for a second.
  • In Power Rangers Jungle Fury, Dai Shi, the Big Bad, and his Dragon Camille, gleefully allows his overlords to be destroyed, two of them by the rangers and one by the Phantom Beast Generals, when they are no longer useful in his plans now that he has learned enough about his techniques from them.

Camille: They've destroyed Carnisoar.
Dai Shi: They did me a favor. One less overlord and a lot more power.

    • Of course, it had a lot to do with the fact that Grizzaka, the leader of the Overlords, laid claim to Dai Shi's position. The honeymoon was over.
  • On Social Game shows such as Survivor, this is common. Some have noticed that typically when an alliance has all their threats down or, decides to turn on each other thinking the other target(s) are of no threat, this happens to one of two people. Either the person who carried the alliance through by winning challenges or making plans, or the low-man on the totem pole who just was another vote. More often than not, it's the first.
    • Russell Hantz pulled one of these every other episode (which alliance-mate Natalie White was fully aware of and used as her cover).
  • The Shadow Line:
    • Gatehouse kills Andy Dixon and his family in episode 3, because they've fulfilled their roles in his plan.
    • In episode 6, the Counterpoint leaders try to do this to Gatehouse himself. It fails, and prompts him to decide they've outlived their usefulness.
  • In Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger, Daizujin has this attitude towards Burai following "Reborn! The Ultimate God!". During the Zyurangers' hibernation, Burai's body got crushed by rocks. Daizyujin only cured him because they needed six Zyurangers in order to unleash Ultimate Daizyujin. Unlike the others, Burai awoke with a magic candle that would cause him to die at a certain time following Ultimate Daizujin's release. Daizyujin explained to the Zyurangers that they found it unnecessary for Burai to live beyond that event.
  • In The Outer Limits episode "Last Supper", a Mad Scientist is on the trail of an immortal woman he wants to experiment on. When his assistant manages to find her, the scientist stabs him in the chest.
  • In Season 3 of Warehouse 13, this trope is why even thinking of siding with Walter Sykes is a very bad idea.

Tabletop Games

  • Regularly and gleefully used by the Dark Eldar and Chaos of Warhammer 40,000. The Inquisition are by no means above this, either. Or anyone for that matter. Also the Emperor did this to his Thunder Warriors after the Unification Wars.
  • This is one way to use Abyssal Persecutor in Magic: The Gathering. Bring him out super early, use him to beat your opponent senseless until his effect is the only thing keeping them alive, then kill Abyssal Persecutor yourself and win.
  • Cardfight Vanguard has multiple clans that use this as part of their play style, to tie back to the card lore. The Tachikaze, Shadow Paladin, Great Nature and Gold Paladin clans all use the trope as a mechanic, but each clan does it at a different point in your turn, and in Tachikaze's case you can revive the units just to kill them again.
  • Can happen in Shadowrun due to the nature of the players' work (performing dirty, deniable jobs for mega-corp agents known collectively as 'Mr. Johnson'). Most Johnsons refrain from tying up loose ends by killing the runners they hire because it's bad for future business to get a reputation for not being true to the deal. Mr. Js with hot heads, personal dirty laundry involved or just ignorant of the code of conduct in the shadows still sometimes try it. The Runner's Handbook splatbook notes that while a Johnson may screw himself out of future deals by wasting a couple runners, it's not really much of a comfort to the poor sods he killed now is it?


Video Games

  • World of Warcraft: In the Arcatraz dungeon, Warden Mellichar, under the influence of mind-control, releases Harbinger Skyriss, who promptly kills Mellichar.
    • The Old Gods do this to Deathwing in the alternate future where they win; to break free, ALL the Dragon Aspects have to die. So he's impaled on top of the Wyrmrest Temple.
    • In Warcraft 2: Tides of Darkness' Orc ending, Ner'Zhul and the player go through a portal and leave the rest of the Horde on Draenor, which is about to be destroyed.
    • In Warcraft 3, once Archimonde is summoned the control of the Scourge is handed over to Tichondrius, leaving Arthas, Kel'thuzad, and Ner'zhul as pretty much nothing.
  • In Armored Core Last Raven, Jack-O have absolutely no qualms about killing other Ravens off using third degree executions (Claiming that a Raven "Betrayed" Vertex for example.) to accomplish his goal of destroying the Pulverizers
  • In Portal, GlaDOS decides to kill Chell after she has all the testing data she needs. In a massive oven, no less.
    • In the sequel, Wheatley also tries this as soon as he can replace Chell with robotic test subjects.
  • Devil May Cry 3; Big Bad Vergil stabs Arkham through the midsection after it became apparent that he was useless to him. Arkham may have brought this on purpose, in order to later convince Lady to hunt Vergil and complete his plan for world domination. Dialogue and Alternate Character Interpretation suggests it's also quite possible that Vergil killed Arkham out of disgust; Arkham is an active worshiper of Evil and murdered his own wife, while Vergil is simply power-hungry and seeks to regain what he sees as his own heritage..
    • Arkham survived Vergil's attempt to kill him. It's actually Lady who finishes him off, with a bullet to the head in revenge for killing her mother, just before Dante and Vergil's final battle.
  • Commander Sith does this to Yomiel towards the end of Ghost Trick. He didn't want Yomiel's services, just the Temsik Meteorite that gave him the ghost trick powers. Since he couldn't kill someone who was already dead, he simply removed the meteorite fragment from Yomiel's body and sunk the submarine, leaving Yomiel trapped at the bottom of the ocean with no way to escape by possessing another body or using the phone lines.
  • Happens in Super Robot Wars: Original Generation Gaiden, worded just this way by Duminuss. And when you beat her, the real Big Bad, Dark Brain, comes out, says the same thing, and offs her.
  • In StarCraft, Arcturus Mengsk abandons his top lieutenant Sarah Kerrigan to die at the fangs of the ravenous Zerg Swarm as soon as she ensures his ultimate victory. While Mengsk is undeniably a Magnificent Bastard, this turns out to be his single greatest mistake, and it comes back to bite him in the ass in a major way.
    • Sarah herself gives this treatment to two entire armies in Starcraft: Brood War.
    • In Starcraft II, a peek into a possible Bad Future shows the Dark Voice and his Hybrids pulling this on the Zerg, exterminating them as soon as he was done using them to annihilate the Terrans and Protoss.
  • In Fable, Maze is defeated, but Jack of Blades says that he had outlived his usefulness anyway.
  • Advance Wars: Days of Ruin: After the barbarian known as The Beast is defeated in Mission 10, the game's Big Bad leaves him to die as the experimental drugs he was injected with ravage his psyche.
  • Alfonso from Skies of Arcadia punts his vice-captain off of his own airship and sends him plummeting to his death when Vyse and Aika invade at the start of the game. He planned to use the vice-captain as a scapegoat for allowing the Blue Rogues to board the ship (and get himself a cushy promotion for "outing the traitor"), but his boss, Galcian, sees through it and punishes him instead.
    • Galcian pulls this himself much later in the game on Belleza, although in a very indirect manner as he simply unleashes the continent-destroying superweapon on the continent he sent her to. This proves to be a fatal error on Galcian's part, as Belleza is late to arrive and thus escapes the blast. She proceeds to aid the heroes in planning their assault on Galcian's fortress, then personally rams her ship into his escape pod when he flees.
    • Finally, Mendoza, the prior Grand Admiral (whom Galcian replaced) tried this on Ramirez in the latter's backstory. Ramirez is a Tyke Bomb created for assassination and has a blade that can slice photons in half, and is, not to mention, still alive when the game comes around: You work out how well that one went. It goes without saying that Galcian is not big on trying to repeat that whopper...
      • Not to mention, Galcian saw Ramirez as being like a son, decidedly not just a tool to be disposed of once he's served his purpose.
  • Remiel says almost these exact words to the party at the end of the Journey of Regeneration in Tales of Symphonia when he attacks you. He fails.
  • The Reveal of Persona 3 involves Ikutsuki doing this to the party, though the death part, at least, had a purpose: He was going to use his tools as human sacrifices to accelerate his plan. Because apparently he can't wait three lousy months. Still fails, though.
  • This happens four times in Fire Emblem 7, and two of these murders are carried by the same person. First, Ephidel stabs Lord Helman to death when he questions his plan to kill Eliwood. Second, Emotionless Girl Limstella kills one of the Reed brothers (it can be either the Swordmaster Linus or the Hero Lloyd, depending on which one you fought against) and Sonia's right hand, the Valkyrie Ursula, assuming she survives the player's Army, after their defeats. And ultimately, after being defeated at the Water Temple, Sonia is either killed by Nergal or left to die by Limstella, depending on whether or not you took a sidequest.
  • Thief: The Dark Project: Garrett almost falls victim to this after delivering the Eye to Constantine, who puts out one of his eyes and leaves him for dead, trapped in a thicket of flesh-eating plants. Garrett is rescued by the Keepers.
  • In Shadow Hearts, Kato's commanding officer and love interest is gunned down by Japanese soldiers when she ceases to be any use to the army high command... as Kato helplessly watches. This starts the chain of events that turns him into the final Big Bad of Covenant.
  • In Tales of the Abyss, Van uses these words when the villain leaves Ion and the party behind to die once Luke has doomed Akzeriuth to sink into the core under his direction. In a subversion, the appearance of the villain's sister in the party suddenly adds a person the villain doesn't want to die into the mix—but since she can save herself (with the minor prize that she'll save the party alongside herself) and the villain knows this, it doesn't change matters.
  • General Leo and Emperor Gestahl are offed by Kefka on two separate occasions in Final Fantasy VI. Shadow almost gets this treatment as well, but he survives and is discovered by the party when they arrive at the Floating Continent, earning them a powerful ally.
  • At the end of The Legend of Zelda Majoras Mask, the eponymous mask does this to the Skull Kid, whom it had been using as a host for most of the game. But he gets better at the end.
  • In Metal Gear Solid, Liquid Snake says this to Solid Snake word for word when Snake finally (unknownly) activates Metal Gear Rex. Then he tries to gas him.
    • The Patriots do this in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty with pretty much every single character, such as deactivating Richard Ames pacemaker nanomachines for him to act out FOXDIE (although the fact that his actions mentioned in In the Darkness of Shadow Moses: The Unofficial Truth were mentioned, and resulted in the incident being exposed among others, may also qualify as a very subtle version of You Have Failed Me...), they engineered President Johnson's betrayal and later capture by Solidus for the S3 plan, and then had Ocelot execute him, and then had Ocelot attempt to execute Solidus, Fortune, Snake, and Raiden aboard Arsenal Gear with RAY.
    • Coldman was implied to have intended to kill off the Peace Sentinels with the Peace Walker project's completion, especially if it succeeded, as soon as it was done. Zadornov himself nearly did this onto Big Boss, and in fact, had the MSF and FSLN not stormed the room and captured Zadornov, he pretty much would have done this.
  • In Kingdom Hearts: Following Sora's Heroic Sacrifice, the game's Big Bad, Ansem, appears out of nowhere and is about to pull this one on Kairi, but Riku holds him back long enough to let her escape with the others.
    • Rather similarly, in Kingdom Hearts II it's DiZ who orders the 'disposal' of Namine after she completes her assigned task; an order he probably wouldn't give if she wasn't a Nobody. Sora's own usefulness to the Organization's Xanatos Gambit eventually expires as well, which goes about as well as you'd expect.
    • In Birth By Sleep Aqua is in the same boat. Her role in the Xanatos Gambit is basically to just succeed at the Master exam while Terra doesn't to make him feel inferior and rush off half cocked. This happens in the first 10 minutes of the plot and the rest of her story arc is basically the Big Bad sending her into danger and later sending his Dragon to personally finish her off. But she's made Master rank for a reason and refuses to die. Eventually she winds up screwing the whole Gambit just by being an extra person who wasn't expected to be around for the final stages.
  • In Perfect Dark, after the first two version of their plan, which attempted to take advantage of Trent Easton's political connections, fail, Mr. Blonde reveals his alien nature and dispatches Easton in a combination of You Have Failed Me... and this trope. When the last, least subtle plan is thwarted as well, the Skedar imprison their other ally, Cassandra DeVries, for the same reasons.
  • In Baten Kaitos, Kalas says to the Guardian Spirit (the player) "I don't need you any more!" and forcefully ejects the player out of the game, leaving the screen to fade to black.
  • Imperator Ix, during the events of Sonic Chronicles, promptly blows Shade off Angel Island for questioning his motives after Sonic and his team rough him up. After he jacks the Master Emerald and sends Angel Island plummeting into Metropolis, Shade allies with Sonic and company to abort his scheme.
  • Said word-for-word in Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3, by Soviet Premier Cherdenko. Of course, you proceed to annihilate the guy after already kicking the backside of two other significant threats.
    • This is foreshadowed after killing General Krukov, who was Cherdenko's superior in the previous timeline. Krukov's Final Speech hints that Cherdenko set him up as the traitor.
  • While he's not killed, Bowser gets this from Ganondorf in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. The two of them are just about to report to Master Hand when Ganondorf decides to turn Bowser into a trophy in preparation to usurp the Master Hand. (Later, when Bowser is restored and Ganondorf is a trophy, Bowser takes his sweet revenge... or tries to, anyway.)
      • But it's all good, because then Tabuu gives the boot to Ganondorf so that he can join the heroes in time for the final battle.
  • Stated almost word-for-word by Hitler Master-D The Leader to Killt in Bionic Commando and its Updated Rerelease.
  • In System Shock 2 SHODAN tells you this after you kill The Many. Big surprise there.
  • In Deus Ex Invisible War, you have the choice of siding with the Templars and retarding nanoaugmentation and possibly technological progress. In their ending, your player character gets lynched. Due to script limitations and laziness in rendering the cutscenes, this only happens to male characters.
  • Sephiroth of Final Fantasy VII has this policy towards the various tatooed men that you encounter (ie. victims of Hojo's Mako experiment), ruthlessly slaughtering them, among many others, after they are manipulated to joining the "reunion" in the Northern Crater. Strangely enough, this also includes the main character.
    • In the game's spinoff, Dirge of Cerberus, after retrieving information for the Tsviets, Azul informs Shelke that she is "no longer required" and that "Weiss has ordered (her) termination."
  • The Big Bad reveals himself and does this to Jihl in Final Fantasy XIII.
  • M.Bison on Street Fighter Alpha 3 does this to the Dolls at their endings.
  • In The Conduit, Mr. Ford is betrayed by Mr. Adams, who leaves Mr. Ford to be killed by invading Drudge after gathering information from Prometheus's base
  • At the start of Mercenaries 2: World In Flames, the player is working for Ramon Solano, a Corrupt Corporate Executive who's friend, a Venezuelan General, is being held for treason. After breaking out the General, Solano decides to kill you before he starts his coup. After many explosions, Oil Rig explosions, castle explosions, and a war between the US and China (with explosions), and TWO nuclear explosions, the Merc finally catches up to Solano. Memo to all would be dictators; don't piss of a Sociopathic Norwegian, Scary Black Man, or High Class British Military Contractor.
  • In Einhander, this is done to you after stage 6, when you find out that Selene wasn't La Résistance, but The Empire. But it might have been a bad idea to try something like that on a One-Man Army.
  • There is a double case in Baldur's Gate 2. When the characters enter the drow city, they see a drow male killing a slave (while actually saying the trope name). A moment later his mommy shows up, and kills him, saying he is much more expendable than that slave.
  • In the video game 'Valkyrie Profile' Covenant of the Plume, you are given the option of sacrificing your characters in exchange for a rather large power boost though if you do it too much you'll receive the bad ending.
  • In Bomberman 64, after you beat Altair with 100 gold cards, Sirius does this to you.
  • In Shogo: Mobile Armor Division, if Sanjuro agrees to help Ryo in exchange for his support in saving Kura, after completing the task, Ryo says "Thanks for the assistance, Commander. You're no longer useful to me. Sorry to leave you hanging," then deactivates the energy bridge leading to the area the Sanjuro is in, forcing him to get back to the main part of the building an air intake chute.
  • In Wing Commander II's second Special Operations pack's ending, it is revealed that the Mandarins, humans who cooperated with the Kilrathi in order to become part of the Kilrathi government and change Kilrathi society from within, were about to outlive their usefulness before Blair destroyed their Ayers Rock base.
  • In Mario & Luigi: Partners In Time, the Shroob Princess (the younger one), declares that Peach is useless after the brothers break her out of her force field and tries to finish her off, but the brothers fight and defeat her.
  • In Batman: Arkham Asylum, the Joker kills Frank Boles after Frank's helped him escape from Intensive Treatment.
  • This is one of the main M.O.s for the Order of Zugzwang, the main villains of Dragon Quest V. The slaves forced to build their colossal temple in the human world? Killed to cover their tracks. The Evil Chancellor who hands over your wife to The Dragon? Promptly murdered. Hell, not even their own are safe from this treatment. King Korol, a high ranking Order official who was in charge of the aforementioned temple, is casually tossed aside by Nimzo after he fulfills his final duty.
  • In Modern Warfare 2, General Shepherd shoots his subordinates, Roach and Ghost, after they retrieve intel on Makarov, then has his Shadow Company goons douse the bodies in kerosene, which he personally ignites. Oh, and you see all of this through Roach's eyes.
    • Shepherd doesn't care much for Shadow Company either- after Soap and Price breach SC's command base, Shepherd blows the whole place up.
  • In any game where you can kill allies and recieve any upgrades they might have often prompts many players to basically use this trope themselves. Take, for example, the original Half Life. Guards can help you out by being a second gun and shooting enemies...but once you come to an inevitable airduct where they can't follow,'s a shame to just leave that ammo behind...
  • The Force Unleashed 2. Vader decides that he has no futher use for Starkiller 2.0. Watch the cinematic trailer in all its glory. This betrayal is also a case of Bond Villain Stupidity.
  • Alpha Protocol. The main character is recruited by Alpha Protocol and sent to Saudi Arabia to recover missiles stolen from Halbech by a terrorist leader, and kill said terrorist leader. It turns out that Halbech really sold those missiles to the terrorist, and have sent you in to kill him since he's outlived his usefulness... And once you've done so they try to do the same to you, since you've outlived your usefulness and know too much.
  • In Rosenkreuzstilette, Iris destroys her own father with a Blitzstrahl attack from behind him after he is defeated by the player's character (Spiritia or Grolla, to be precise) because he wasn't useful in her plans anymore.

Graf Sepperin: (As he gets struck from behind by Iris' Blitzstrahl attack) GAAAAAAAAAHHH!!! (he burns away)
Iris: What a useless old man.

    • She would've done the same to Tia if not for her friend Freu interfering with a massive ice attack that freezes her one last attack with it.

Iris: I really must thank you for being such quality entertainment. Unfortunately, I have no further use for you, so... Please die.

  • After the Shadow Queen possesses Peach in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, Grodus attempts to order her around- not exactly the smartest move, considering her nature. She proceeds to blast him with lightning. He got better.
  • In Adventure Quest Worlds, Zahart has his Djinn Tibicenas do away with one of his servants because they are no longer useful in his plans anymore after they have uncovered a red diamond that is actually the heart of their Chaos Beast, the Chaos Sphinx.
  • In chapter 4 of Disgaea: Hour of Darkness, Maderas does this to Etna after he forced her to betray Laharl. Fortunately, she foresaw this and her counter-plan was set into motion.
    • Similarly, in the last chapter of the same game, Magnificent Bastard / Guile Hero Seraph Lamington does this to Vulcanus by rewarding him with a transformation into a flower (or a frog in Makai Senki Disgaea, take your pick) - that also as punishment for making pacts with demons and using humans to attack innocent demons - after he has served his purpose of bringing peace between angels, demons, and humans well. Since Vulcanus is a Complete Monster, this was a very satisfying punishment for him.
  • Happens a few times in Fallout: New Vegas, such as with Barton Thorn (who asks you to clear some Gecko off a ridge to save his girlfriend, when in reality he just wants a haul of treasure) and Logan (who recruits you into his band of mercenaries in order to loot a town after it becomes irradiated).
    • Elijah in the Dead Money tells you that he doesn't care what happens to your comrades once they get inside the casino, and while it's up to you whether they live or die, if it was up to him they'd all be dead. Once you've broken into the vault, he will attempt to kill you as well.
    • Caesar is a variation; tribes that ally with him tend to wind up assimilated into the legion, with the worthy men press-ganged into the military and the women used as slave labor.
  • In The Legend of Spyro: Dawn of the Dragon, Malefor does this to the apes by giving them a Fate Worse Than Death as a reward for freeing him from his prison.
  • Double Switch: Early on, Eddie needs your help to escape the basement he's trapped in. After you free him, he goes on a rampage, and when he realizes that you are thwarting him, he will try to cut off your connection to the security system, and you will have to stop him from doing so.
  • An Evil Chancellor in Dragon Quest V is left to rot to death by Kon the Knight after he successfully kidnaps your wife. Not a surprise, no one pities him when he dies.
  • Subverted in Psycho Waluigi. After Waluigi frees Psycho Iris, the latter says he is about to do this, but then he follows it up by saying, "...JUST KIDDING! I only said that 'cause you were expecting me to, and I didn't want to dissapoint."
  • At the end of Mass Effect 2, Harbinger delivers this line to the Collector General, for the crime of letting Shepard blow up the Collector Base and Reaper prototype.
    • Reapers in general do this to all their indoctrinated slaves, since their ultimate goal is wiping out all advanced species.
    • In Mass Effect 3 the Illusive Man's new antagonism towards Shepard is apparently a case of this, though in fact it's because he's indoctrinated.
  • In the fourth case of Ace Attorney Investigations, Mack Rell, after killing Deid Mann for the smuggling ring, accuses Byrne Faraday of hiring him and being the Yatagarasu (he's lying about the former but correct about the latter). After his true client Calisto Yew kills Byrne, he helps her rearrange the scene of the crime, then gets shot dead for his efforts.
  • In the Total Conversion "Malice" for Quake, this happens to the protagonist mid-plot. The Big Bad ambushes him just when he tries to figure out why he still hasn't been paid for his job.
  • In Resident Evil 5, Albert Wesker does this to Excella near the end of the game. During the final confrontation, Chris mocks Wesker's tendency to do this to his allies by noting that Wesker is all alone with his back to a wall.
  • In Section 8 (video game): Prejudice Salvador disposes of Thorne when the latter is cornered by 1st Recon.
  • Dimitri Rascalov attempts this several times in Grand Theft Auto IV. After Niko offs his Ax Crazy business partner on Dimtri's orders, Dimitri tries to sell Niko out to Bulgarin, a crime boss with a grudge against Niko, which results in a shootout in a warehouse. If Niko later agrees to assist Dimitri in a drug deal, Dimitri sends a hitman to Roman's cousin's wedding, who tries to shoot Niko, but ends up killing Roman instead.
  • In The Godfather 2 there are only so many slots on your Badass Crew. Want to recruit someone better? You can mark an existing member for death, allowing you to dispose of him.
  • This happens to the trio that took Gene's arm in God Hand. After beating them a second time, a later cutscene in the stage has them running to another area, still upset, only for them to encounter Azel who dashes past them and turns them into dust for being worthless.
  • In Planescape: Torment, The Practical Incarnation inverted this trope by manipulating someone into falling in love with and dying for him. The Power of Love kept her bound to him even after death and her ghost remained an integral part of his plan: She did not 'outlive her usefulness' so much as 'even in death, she still serves'. While The Practical Incarnation is long gone, Deionarra keeps haunting and attempting to guide the incarnations of The Nameless One, unable to leave him even if he no longer remembers her.
  • In Dark Souls Lautrec does this to Anastacia of Astora, the Firelink Shrine Firekeeper, killing her and stealing her soul. Keep in mind she hasn't outlived her usefulness to you when he does this. Kingseeker Frampt says this of the remaining Lord Soul owners. You can also do this to almost every friendly NPC you meet.

Visual Novels

  • Most of the villans of Fate/stay night are of the manipulator kind and are really fond of this trope. Kotomine tries pulling it on the protagonist and Saber in Fate after he fails to tempt them with the Grail (fails because Lancer interferes), and Rin in Unlimited Blade Works (fails because Lancer interferes) -- followed by pulling it on Lancer himself by ordering him to kill himself (succeeds, but Lancer takes him down with him). In Heaven's Feel, Zouken takes over the Big Bad-ship and ends up trying to pull this trope on Sakura and fails.

Web Comic

  • In Order of the Stick, When Redcloak informs Xykon that his ogre minions are asking for payment, Xykon kills them and zombifies them. "Just as strong, but they eat less!"
    • Its also implied in recent strips that Xykon is grooming Tsukiko to replace Redcloak since he's becoming increasingly unreliable
    • Later on however Redcloak disposes of the wights by ordering them to kill (and eat) themselves in order to cover up the murder of Tsukiko
      • When he tells Xykon that he killed Tsukiko for being The Starscream, Xykon's response is basically "been there, done that, didn't really need her" (combined with some face saving).
  • Sequential Art:

OZBASIC: You have served your purpose. Prepare for deathly laser death time..... WITH LASERS!

  • In an amusing moment of Genre Savvy (for him), Otacon from The Last Days of Foxhound uses Sniper Wolf as an intermediary to tell Liquid that he's finished modifying Metal Gear to fire nukes, stating that he suspects Liquid will adhere to this trope and kill him the moment he finds out. Obviously, it doesn't happen.
  • In Everyday Heroes, Wrecking Paul is a serial killer preying on women, as well as a thief. When faced with Mr. Mighty instead of the female hero he was expecting, he turns on his accomplice. Apparently he goes through a lot of them.
  • In Drowtales, Quain'tana gives Syphile a warning that she has "outlived your purpose [raising Ariel] and my patience" and effectively banishes her. The threat to kill her is not explicitly said (and considering the end result of her raising Ariel, it was more of a You Have Failed Me... anyway), but it's definitely there.
    • And she recently made good on it, though Syphile attacked her first rather than the other way around.
  • Black Mage from Eight Bit Theater was always a fan of Chaos and made no attempts to hide it. Once Chaos himself shows up, he makes it clear that he intends to slaughter BM as well as everything else.
  • Subverted in Errant Story, where it's the good guys (or at least the antihero) who invoke the trope (by name) to dispose of bandit Jim after Sarine coerces him into revealing the location of the bandit camp. Sarine herself is perfectly happy to have the guy go off to the Powers That Be and turn himself in, but Jon prefers a more ... direct ... approach.
  • In Mitadake Saga, Keiichi kills both Kazu and Yuki after they've finished all the testing of the Death Note and are unable to provide him with names respectively
  • In The B Movie Comic, The Dr. Claw-style unseen villain rewards one of his mooks.

Web Original

  • Helpful Tip: Keep your secret lair a SECRET.
  • Benjamin Palmer does this to Col. Keene near the end of Broken Saints, then has it done to him in turn by Lear Dunham.
  • Game 7 of Comic Fury Werewolf. The two Wolves decided to backstab the Framer mere days away from victory. It turned out later that they'd just forgotten that he was on their side, but the Trope was used in the Death Scene anyway.
  • Played with in Stupid Mario Brothers. After Shadow Mario fulfilled his usefulness to Mr. L, he died, but not at the hands of Mr. L...
  • Douglas Hyland and Julian Hunter in Splinter Cell Extinction. The latter gets better.
  • |Hades does this in The Frollo Show to Scanty and Kneesocks in the episode Frollo Misses His Mother. This was after Frollo, Gaston, Lefou, and Hans Frollo escape Hell by using Sonic's spring. They managed to escaped because Hans makes a surprising appearance and covers them with his sperm. They apologize to Hades, only for him to respond by kicking them into the River Styx and punishes them by having them hear the song "Never Gonna Give You Up" by Rick Astley.

Western Animation

  • In Jackie Chan Adventures, Shendu did this to Valmont and the Enforcers after getting all of his talismans. Later in season 2, he no longer needed Finn, Ratso, and Chow to carry the Pan'Ku box and sends them out (it is notable, though, that he lets them live at all, presumably because they actually did what they were supposed to do). Shendu tries to do this to Hak Foo, but Valmont wouldn't allow him. However, Shendu soon figured out he had invoked the trope too soon, as he still needed the box, even if just to delay his sibling's wrath.
  • In Jonny Quest, a villainous maharaja working with Dr. Zin on a fake gold mine makes the big mistake of mentioning that he will be sharing the ill-gotten gains with Zin. At that statement, Zin casually orders his lackey to implement Phase 2 of his plan. When the Maharajah asks for a light and asks what Zin is referring to, the lackey suddenly hits the Maharajah with a hidden spring-loaded poison needle in his lighter to kill him since he is not needed anymore.
  • This occurs in Justice League Unlimited where most of the main villains team up to revive Brainiac at Lex Luthor's command. When it turns out to be Darkseid instead, the evil alien rewards their efforts by killing almost all of them.
  • Xanatos tries this on the Gargoyles in the series' opening after his initial Xanatos Gambit on them has succeeded. It doesn't work.
  • Typhonus lays it out fairly openly in Exo Squad when asked about Barca, a traitor Pirate helping the Neosapiens in return for Pirate dominion over Venus: "All of Venus Barca will ever see is a six-foot hole in the ground."
    • Ironically, Typhonus himself had been on the receiving end of such earlier (He got better becuase of Cloning Blues)
  • In the Musical Episode of Batman the Brave And The Bold, the Music Meister sings his brainwashed mindslaves into dancing to a fiery grave:

And now that Batman's been delayed, your usefulness has passed
A distraction is what I need, so kick into that blast!

  • Batman Beyond had an episode where Inque, a powerful shapeshifter whose body was falling apart, was freed from prison, given a place to hide out and helped to have her body's cohesion restored by a slightly stalkerish guy who had worked at the prison. While the guy WAS annoying and probably creepy to be around it still doesn't forgive Inque taking his request, to be given powers similar to hers, and twisting it by only giving him half the abilities. In a rather nasty case of Body Horror the guy now has a body similar to Inque in that its formless and maleable, but he lacks the ability to control it.
  • Winx Club season 2: Once Darkar has the four pieces of the codex and Dark Bloom at his side, he makes clear that he doesn't need the Trix anymore by tossing them into a black hole. That decision bites him in the ass not much later...
  • Trigon does this to Slade during the fourth season finale of Teen Titans. Subverted in that Slade saw it coming, acquired a magical artifact that protected him from the worst of Trigon's wrath, and managed to survive. He spends the rest of the finale helping the Titans take Trigon down.
  • White Knight, a good guy (relatively), in the series Generator Rex implies to Agent Six that he will do this to Rex if the teenager refuses to obey orders.
  • Subverted in the pilot episode "The Terrible Secret of Turtle Bay" of The Venture Bros. The Big Bad is getting some acupuncture when his Mook comes in and tells him that Doctor Venture is unveiling a new invention. Having received this information, the Big Bad grabs some acupuncture needles out of his body and throws them at the mook, seemingly killing him. As the Big Bad is reading the newspaper article about Doctor Venture, the mook speaks up and the Big Bad looks up from the paper to see the mook thanking him for curing his shoulder pain and also his smoking habit.
  • Hack and Slash of ReBoot get this treatment during season 3, despite never having been useful in the first place. Megabyte is sick of their incompetence and sends them to the front lines solely to get rid of them.
  • Megatron does this to Starscream in the finale of Transformers Animated soon after his Batman Gambit of having Omega Supreme's control codes uploaded into the fanatically-loyal Lugnut (after he punched Starscream when the latter tried to take the codes for himself) succeeds.
    • Another factor that adds to this trope is after Lugnut gets the codes, Starscream points out that the Omega Supreme clones are useless without his Allspark fragment. Megatron responds that he already retrived some Allspark fragments from inside the original Omega Supreme.

Megatron: "You're no longer of use to me". *BLAM*

    • Mind you, this Megs is actually less cartoonishly evil than most - he did it to Starscream because Starscream was, well, The Starscream.
  • In Superman: The Animated Series, Bruce Wayne narrowly avoids this trope with Braniac thanks to Superman disguised as Batman. Bruno Mannheim didn't turn out so lucky with Darkseid.
  • NOS-4-A2 in an episode of Buzz Lightyear of Star Command makes it very clear that he's going to dispose of XL after he's no longer needed for his plan of conquering the galaxy. He even says these exact words to XL after he says he killed both Buzz Lightyear and XR. Unfortunately for NOS-4-A2, XL had a Heel Face Turn and was lying about killing the space rangers.

NOS-4-A2: Excellent. You've served me well. But you have outlived your usefulness.
Buzz Lightyear: For evil, maybe. But not for good!

  • In the 1992 X-Men cartoon, Zaladane says exactly this to Sauron in the episode "Savage Land, Strange Heart Part 2." It doesn't work out well for her.
  • Chris McLean says this word-for-word Owen in the fourth season of Total Drama Island, when the latter asks why he and the cast of the first three seasons aren't competing this time. Then Chris has him blown up.

Real Life

  • After the October Revolution and Civil War in Russia were over, many of its ideologists were purged, because as vehement revolutionaries, they knew nothing except staging rebellions and rooting out inner enemies (which resulted in the Great Terror of the 20-30s), and building a functional state with them was impossible.
  • The Nazis were very fond of doing this:
    • A bleak example from the Holocaust was the Sonderkommando, inmates in Auschwitz who were given good food, cigarettes and lodging by camp standards in exchange for doing the gruesome work of cleaning up and burning all the bodies produced by the gas chambers. While useful, they were also dangerous, as they knew in intricate detail what was going on and how it was being carried out. As a result, Sonderkommandos were regularly gassed and replaced, with the first duty of the replacements being to collect and burn the bodies of their predecessors.
    • Another prominent Nazi-example: The SA. The Sturmabteilung was vital to the NSDAP's (and Hitler's) rise to power, however, only two years later, the SA was forcibly disbanded during the Night of The Long Knives (aka Operation Hummingbird, aka Rhöm-putsch). Most of its high-ranking officers were killed either right then and there or soon after.
    • Nazi Germany did this to a lot of countries during World War II, including Vichy France after the Allies landed in French North Africa (nominal Vichiyite territory), Italy after the Allies landed in Sicily, and Hungary after they tried to defect. The bungled-up attempt to do this to the Soviet Union (after much initial cooperation, including the joint invasion of Poland and the Soviets providing Germany with resources to fight against France and Britain) sowed much of the seeds of the Nazis' downfall.
  • This is usually averted with secret agents; any people they can coerce into helping them are better alive than dead, especially if they can provide further services in the future.
  • Activision Blizzard falls into this trope in an excellent way. Remember Call of Duty, the game that was developed by Infinity Ward, the very same company that gave Activision Blizzard billions of dollars; well, Activision Blizzard has fired two key figures of Infinity Ward and has said that the developer will not make more games of that franchise; instead, Treyarch and a new developer would take care of the franchise. However, this was subverted after several civil suits, Infinity War got back together and are working with Activision to make Modern Warfare 3.
    • Activision is notorious for this. For another example, they had acquired Red Octane entirely for the Guitar Hero franchise, then promptly had Neversoft and a couple other teams pump out as many titles as possible, which, by the end of 2010, had been 13 games in less than five years. At this point, the franchise had made Activision a few billion dollars. The moment sales started slipping, partly due to Activision's self-induced market oversaturation, Red Octane was dissolved and, as of February 2011, the franchise is dead.
  • According to apocrypha, this was at the center of the supposed Pixar/Disney feud back in 2005, with Disney getting upset by the "upstart" Pixar, which in turn was tired of being the sidekick to Disney when in fact their movies were making Disney billions.
  • In the insect and arachnid world, this happens quite frequently to the male after the act of mating.
  • Margaret Thatcher was the longest serving Tory Prime Minister of the 20th century, and one of the most successful politicians of all time. She led, her party to three consecutive landslide victories, broke the back of the labour movement and the Labour Party, and permanently shifted British politics to the right. But when she became an electoral liability, the Tory party had nothing for her but this.
    • This is pretty damn common in politics in general. If someone is not leaving an office of their own volition (i.e. retirement) or term-limited, 9 times out of 10, they're being forced out by other people, which could be either the voters or party higher-ups.
  • When France surrendered in World War II, the British Navy attacked and destroyed their fleet at Mers El-Kebir in order to prevent it being used against the UK, killing 1,297 French sailors.
  • Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is legendary for this tactic.
  • The end of a major war often sees allies outliving usefulness to each other because as the enemy becomes less and less of a factor their chief consideration is as rivals to each other for plunder. In World War 2 the Western Allies were more then a bit off the mark in this and considering who some of their Allies were that is mainly excused by the fact that the American people had something of a national John Wayne complex at the time, and disliked slimy international scheming. And also that both Americans and British had a sentimental admiration for Russia and a secret guilt complex over not suffering as much casualties. A bit irrational as Germans and Japanese were brave too, and more to the point, giving Stalin more territory would hardly help the Russian people and would mainly help Stalin. Who of course did the job of a head of state defending Russia and to give him credit, not badly, but one of those jobs is not to show sacrificial bravery in the trenches.
    • Similar things happened at the end of World War I and this was complicated by the dozens of new countries or old countries brought back to life several of which would after the Great Powers had made peace, still be fighting to draw out their turf.
    • The Napoleonic Wars ended with Russia becoming overbearing comparably to how it did in the wake of World War 2 and Prussia seeking for Russia's jackal's share. In this case the other Powers were less naive perhaps because they were Not So Different and they managed to curb Russian ambition, achieving a Balance of Power, perhaps at the expence of justice for some of the provinces doled out blithely in the process though arguably the Lesser of Two Evils. Your Mileage May Vary on that one. On the other hand the peace after the Napoleonic Wars was one of the first to pay anything like serious attention to human rights allowing, for instance, a lobby for the Jews and the abolitionists among others. So perhaps it can be considered Fair for Its Day.
  1. This is in contrast to the book, where she's left alive, but made unavailable due to Escobedo using the information that Cortez had collected for an attack on a US delegation visiting Colombia. After the US discovers the source of the leak and gets her cooperation in capturing him, his returning to the US would result in being arrested.