• Before making a single edit, Tropedia EXPECTS our site policy and manual of style to be followed. Failure to do so may result in deletion of contributions and blocks of users who refuse to learn to do so. Our policies can be reviewed here.
  • All images MUST now have proper attribution, those who neglect to assign at least the "fair use" licensing to an image may have it deleted. All new pages should use the preloadable templates feature on the edit page to add the appropriate basic page markup. Pages that don't do this will be subject to deletion, with or without explanation.
  • All new trope pages will be made with the "Trope Workshop" found on the "Troper Tools" menu and worked on until they have at least three examples. The Trope workshop specific templates can then be removed and it will be regarded as a regular trope page after being moved to the Main namespace. THIS SHOULD BE WORKING NOW, REPORT ANY ISSUES TO Janna2000, SelfCloak or RRabbit42. DON'T MAKE PAGES MANUALLY UNLESS A TEMPLATE IS BROKEN, AND REPORT IT THAT IS THE CASE. PAGES WILL BE DELETED OTHERWISE IF THEY ARE MISSING BASIC MARKUP.


WikEd fancyquotes.pngQuotesBug-silk.pngHeadscratchersIcons-mini-icon extension.gifPlaying WithUseful NotesMagnifier.pngAnalysisPhoto link.pngImage LinksHaiku-wide-icon.pngHaikuLaconic
"No Muttley, we can't win fairly! We are villains, ergo we have to cheat!"

A baddie, after proceeding to get ahead via legitimate or illegitimate means, will stop coasting to an easy victory in order to grab the Villain Ball and set up yet another plan to screw up the good guys. This always results in the plan either backfiring or wasting too much of the villain's time and effort, thereby giving the advantage back to the good guys. Dishonor Before Reason.

Doesn't apply specifically to Wacky Racing, but to any competitive endeavor. May involve a Road Sign Reversal. See also Cut Lex Luthor a Check, of which this could almost be considered a subtrope. This is a subtrope of Two Rights Make a Wrong.

Compare and contrast Dudley Do-Right Stops to Help. See also Cheaters Never Prosper, Chronic Backstabbing Disorder, Stupid Evil, Evil Is Petty; related in spirit to the Revealing Coverup. The polar opposite of Dick Dastardly Stops to Cheat is (of course) Pragmatic Villainy.

Examples of Dick Dastardly Stops to Cheat include:

Anime and Manga

  • Team Rocket occasionally almost always fell victim to this on Pokémon (they're Team Rocket, after all). For instance, they planned to steal a (then) full set of four Eevee evolutions, each one individually extremely valuable. They get three of them and a huge lead, easily enough to escape—but Musashi/Jesse insists on going back for the fourth one, resulting in their capture. Usually it's because they'll try and steal Pikachu even if they already have a chance to get away with some rare/valuable Pokémon/object.
    • James openly averted this trope in one episode where he participated in an "orienteering race" in the episode Off the Unbeaten Path. Basically, he competed fairly with his Mime Jr. despite Jessie urging him to cheat like she was doing. In the end. James wins the contest and Jessie gets "blasted off."
    • The entire Team averted this in an episode where one of their evil plots begins with hawking cheap merchandise at a Pokémon tournament. They make so much money doing this, they decide to call off the rest of the plan and go home winners. Of course, by the time they opened up an even bigger shop, the tournament was over and they were out of money. Back to a life of crime.
    • There was also the Balloon Race episode where Team Rocket was actually winning the race fair and square before Jesse and James screwed them up by cheating over Meowth's vigorous objections.
  • Danzo from Naruto tries to hypnotize Mifune so the Kages will elect him leader of their alliance. It doesn't work. Mifune then informs him that he was going to nominate him, but no longer intends to do so...
  • A slightly different version of this trope applies during the Frieza Saga of Dragonball Z. Frieza would have won if he hadn't decided to kill Krillin, the act which sent Goku over the edge to become a Super Saiyan.

Films - Live-Action

  • In Rat Race, while everybody is doing everything they can to keep moving, the Cody Brothers stop to actively cheat more than any of the others. First of all they decide that since they can't get a plane flight, they'll sabotage an airport (it worked, but they needed a new car). Next they pause to steal another competitor's car engine. And most of all, when they decide to split up for a better chance to win, they end up in a cross-country chase starting with a hot-air-balloon and ending with their car crashing into a lake.
  • Trip from Herbie Fully Loaded felt compelled to ram Herbie into the wall even though he was in the lead, causing him to crash spectacularly and allowing Herbie to win the race.
  • The Great Race, starring Tony Curtis as the Great Leslie, and Jack Lemmon as Professor Fate. Professor Fate lives this trope. Professor Fate actually originated this trope, as Dick Dastardly is based on him.

Professor Fate: Push the button, Max!

    • Also inverted in the final scene, where the hero stops his car a few yards from the finish line to snog Natalie Wood's character. (Well hey, wouldn't you?) This actually allows Fate to win, but he refuses to accept victory on those terms and immediately challenges the Great Leslie to another race.
  • In One Crazy Summer, despite Teddy's protests that he can win the sailing race fairly, his bullying father insists on cheating and even goes so far as to say it's "the only way to win." Naturally, this time they don't.
  • In Monte Carlo or Bust this happens several times to Sir Cuthbert Ware-Armitage; in fact, after accidentally blowing up his own car, Perkins picks him up on this.
  • A Running Gag in the Austin Powers films is how Number Two's front companies are making tons of money legally, causing him lots of frustration when Dr. Evil doesn't care and still wants to take over the world, just because.


  • The Big Match at the end of Unseen Academicals. Since most of Ankh-Morpork United are professional footballers, it's quite likely they could have beaten UU fair and square, but attempting to do so never even occurs to Andy Shank, whose fouling of opposition players ensures that Trev Likely is on the field, and by judicious application of the rules becomes unstoppable.

Live-Action TV

  • One episode of MacGyver involved a stock car race between the title character and an old rival. The rival had nitrous oxide installed in his car without his permission ("That's illegal"), but even though he was already ahead of MacGyver and would have won had he just kept the course, he decides to use the nitrous oxide he criticized anyway and ends up spinning out on the shoulder.
  • In the Stargate SG-1 episode "Space Race", the villainous human supremacists sabotage every other vehicle in the race so their favorite will win. In doing so, they take out most of the legitimate competition for Sam and her partner, and convince another enemy pilot to disable the favorite's ship out of spite.
  • In "Earthbound", an episode of Space: 1999, a passing ship on its way to Earth offers to take one human along with them (there is only one free cryogenic capsule). The computer is asked to choose who goes. While the program is running, an obnoxious bureaucrat is busy nagging Koenig about how important he is and so on. He finally stows away on the alien ship but it doesn't end well. So who did the computer eventually choose? The obnoxious bureaucrat!
  • LazyTown's Robbie Rotten, who's goal is to return the town to its original lazy state, is the most active person in the town due to his schemes.
  • This ended up being the undoing of the Korilla BBQ team on season two of Food Network's "The Great Food Truck Race." Fearing elimination they added $2700 of their own money to their cash box to make it look like they sold more than they actually did. They ended up getting caught and disqualified. Ironically enough the team actually made enough money legitimately to earn third place that week and wouldn't have been eliminated had they not resorted to cheating.
  • The Adventures of Shirley Holmes had an episode where the leading candidate at the election for Student Council President was believed to have invoked the trope (he even pointed out he was leading when he was accused) but was actually framed. The heroine found out but was unable to expose and it became a case of The Bad Guy Wins.

Newspaper Comics

  • One French comic named L'élève Ducobu follows an utterly lazy student who constantly attempts to steal and copy the answers of a Child Prodigy during exams. It doesn't work out too well. When said Child Prodigy tells him that she would gladly actually pass her the answers to copy if he asked her politely, he (hesitantly) does so and she does give him the answers, only for him to immediately give them back to her dramatically, stating that he can't do it like this. He then immediately resumes his schemes.
  • Dilbert has Marketing Department. [1]

Dilbert: Our new product is better than the competition in every way.
Pointy-Haired Boss: Excellent. I'll get Marketing involved to tell a bunch of lies about all that.
Dilbert: Why would they need to lie?


Professional Wrestling

  • Kurt Angle, definitely. It's acknowledged even in Kayfabe that he's the only professional wrestler in history to have won an Olympic gold medal ("with a broken freaking neck!") for actual wrestling, so theoretically (and barring some kind of miracle) he should completely decimate every single person who squares off with him in the ring. And yet whenever he's a heel - and, oddly, sometimes even when he's a face - he still cheats!
  • It was Vince McMahon's attempt to pull a Montreal Screwjob on CM Punk that resulted in Punk defeating Cena for the title and (temporarily) leaving the company with it. Oops.
  • According to Mick Foley, this was apparently practically dogma back when he was working in the Memphis territory, according to a booker who told him "A heel has to cheat to get his heat".
  • Jesse Ventura's mantra: "Win if you can, lose if you must; but always cheat."


  • Meet Boris Onischenko, Soviet fencer and pentathlete. At the 1976 Summer Olympics, the British team caught him using an epee rigged to score points at the press of a button. While it was being checked out, Boris won eight of his nine matches with a regular epee but was disqualified once the examination was completed.
    • Taking inspiration from the example above, refers to this trope (specifically in reference to Mr. Onischenko) as the New England Patriots school of cheating—cheat For the Evulz, even if you'd win anyway. Just because.
  • To expand on what was mentioned in the previous example: in 2007, the New England Patriots were caught illegally taping the hand signals of their Week 1 opponent New York Jets. Coach Bill Belichick was fined $500,000, and the team ended up forfeiting their first-round draft pick. The unnecessary part of this comes when you note that this team was the first team to go undefeated in a 16-game regular season and ended the season with 589 points scored and a +315 point differential (difference between points the team scored and points the team allowed over the course of the season), while their quarterback Tom Brady threw 50 touchdown passes and wide receiver Randy Moss had 23 touchdown receptions, all NFL records.
    • On the other hand, they lost the Super Bowl to the New York Giants.
  • The Renault Formula One team hadn't won for nearly two years when two senior team members conspired with driver Nelson Piquet Jr. to deliberately crash during the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix to assist teammate Fernando Alonso to win the race. When the truth emerged in 2009 there was a huge uproar, the plotters were banned from racing, sponsors pulled out early and Renault's brand image was tarnished. Funny thing is that Alonso and Renault won the next race in 2008 (in Japan) entirely fair and square.
    • The same team's forerunner, Benetton, tried their best to cheat despite them and Michael Schumacher being the best car/driver combination in 1994 after Ayrton Senna died. The Benetton was found to have illegal traction control software hidden in its computer. The team's left out a filter in their refueling rig to speed up pit stops. Schumacher overtook Damon Hill on the formation lap at the British Grand Prix (when rules state no-overtaking), then ignored the penalty and was disqualified from the race and excluded from two more. In the end Schumacher won by one point over Hill after their controversial collision in Australia.
    • Perhaps the most literal F1 example ever happened in the 2006 Monaco GP qualifying. Simply put, Michael Schumacher stopped to cheat (yeah, him again). After setting fastest lap in qualifying, he parked his car against the wall running wide in the Rascasse corner and stalled his engine, which spoiled rival Alonso's faster flying lap. Schumacher alleged it was an accident. Needless to add, it didn't fly. Cue Schumacher starting from the back of the grid.
    • After clinching pole on the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix qualifying, the McLaren team forced Lewis Hamilton to stop on his in-lap because he hadn't enough fuel to get back to the pits AND produce the minimum 1-litre fuel sample to the FIA. Unfortunately the team said it was "force majeure" (act of God) rather than human error to the stewards. Didn't cut the mustard and he was slung out to the back of the grid as punishment. The same thing happened to Lewis in Canada 2010 which he got away with but since then the rules changed so mistakes like that don't happen again.
  • Jimmie Johnson has hands-down the best car in NASCAR, especially since it's financed by Rick Hendrick and Jeff Gordon. So why crew chief Chad Knaus was caught illegally altering the car prior to the 2006 Daytona 500 is anyone's guess. Knaus was suspended, the car was impounded, Johnson had to start the race from the rear of the field in a backup car—and he won the race anyway.
  • Andrew Golota. A Heavyweight boxer who was twice ahead of former world champion Riddick Bowe on points proceeded to low blow him until disqualification. Both times.
  • MythBusters determined corking a bats actually reduces the effectiveness and concluded this of the MLB players who were caught doing it.

Tabletop Games

  • In every group playing Diplomacy, there's one guy who, upon hearing that you can backstab people, believes that the whole game is about backstabbing people. So, he does so for some very short term gains, derailing everybody else's carefully laid plans, sending the victim on a long Humiliation Conga as he loses all of his states, and screwing himself over since nobody will deal with him, effectively making victory impossible.
  • In Blood Bowl, delaying your touchdown to tackle or foul opposing players can be a good way of improving your team's long term position, but also risks your own player being knocked down or sent off, either of which ends your turn and lets your opponent regain the initiative.

Video Games

  • In F-Zero, this can actually happen to the player: attack your opponents in the wrong place and you might send yourself flying off the track.
    • GX actually encourages such behavior by not only giving you an extra life if you smash five people off the track, but placing a huge RIVAL sign above the opponent who is highest on the leaderboard. Should that racer suffer an unfortunate "accident", the target sign moves to the highest remaining opponent...
  • A frequent strategy used when playing against the computer in Grand Prix mode of a racing game like the original Super Mario Kart was to hang back a bit near the end to sabotage the leading AI opponent so that the player would gain a greater point advantage. Much like the Need for Speed example, this is actually much better with two players, at least before the latest version specifically disallowed this strategy. One player hugs the turns and goes for speed, while the other plays demolition derby, hangs back in third or fourth place, where they get the good weapons, and mows down the competition for the speed player.
  • In Tropico, the player (El Presidente) has the option of rigging elections which moves about 10% of the votes to your favor. You can do this even if you are going to win the election in a landslide, although this will upset your people.
  • Resident Evil 4 has this trope as its motivation for eighty percent of the game. At the end of Chapter 2-1, Leon has rescued Ashley and signaled for the rescue chopper, when Saddler appears and starts Monologuing about his big plan, which is already complete - inject Ashley with Las Plagas and have her under Saddler's control when she gets home. He then notes that Leon can't stop him, since he was injected as well while unconscious. But then, despite the fact that Saddler literally has to do nothing to win, his toadies show up and shoot flaming crossbow darts at them. Then they shoot down the chopper as well and proceed to try and kill Leon and Ashley for the rest of the game.
  • Knights of the Old Republic has a few such incidents, but the most obvious is the Mandalorian genocide of the Cathar over little more than bad blood from the Exar Kun rising or before. They get away with it for quite some time, but when their responsibility was confirmed by the Revanchists, the entire things blew up in their faces. Not only did they fail to completely exterminate the Cathar and they gave the Republic's denizens yet more reason to rally to the banner, but this proved to be such a PR explosion for Revan and his followers that the Jedi Council—which had previously been on the verge of trying to forcibly disband them—stayed its hand and allowed the Revanchists to join the fray with little more than a stern word, thus paving the way for Revan's tactics and the addition of his Jedi followers to turn the tide.

Western Animation

  • The Trope Namer, Dick Dastardly from Wacky Races, frequently stopped to cheat even though he was way out in the lead, allowing his opponents to catch up and overtake him. More than one person has suggested he's doing this on purpose, for varying reasons. These failed schemes always put him in last place, but every time he'd be back in first to try again. This would repeat 3-5 times an episode. Think about it for a minute; he could go from dead-last with a damaged vehicle to a commanding lead several times a race. The Mean Machine had to be far and away the best vehicle in the race, and he'd piss that away because he's the baddie and has to cheat. And the only race in which he won, Dastardly gets disqualified due to a last second cheat.
    • It actually makes a lot of sense that the Mean Machine is far superior to the other racecars, given that it's a rocket-propelled vehicle going up against (among other things), a Depression-era coupe, a World War I-era fighter that can barely fly, a glorified go-kart powered by a steam boiler in an advanced state of disrepair and what seems to be a weird amalgam of a surplus army tank and a street sweeper. Really, to look at them, the only vehicle that should have even the faintest hope against the MM is Peter Perfect's Turbo Terrific (which is actually, you know, a RACE CAR).
      • Arguably, Pat Pending's Convert-a-Car could as well, if only due to the plethora of resources it has. That it can turn into an ACTUAL rocket, among other things, doesn't hurt either.
    • Issue #4 of the Gold Key comic book (Aug. 1971) has all the racers employing a book entitled "How to Win a Race By Hook or Crook", written by Dastardly himself. Penelope Pitstop would effectively eliminate Peter Perfect and Red Max by getting them to fight over her.
  • The same is true of the Really Rottens on Laff-A-Lympics and Phantom Phink, the bearded Dastardly Expy, on Yogi's Space Race. When the Really Rottens won legitimately, they got angry when the announcers pointed it out. They're such Card Carrying Villains that they want to not just win, but win by cheating.
  • Spike, the bulldog who opposed Tex Avery's Droopy in various competitions, was practically built on this concept. The biggest evidence of this was the episode "Mutts About Racing", that featured Droopy and Spike as rival race car drivers. One would think Spike and Dick were driving school buddies or something like that.
  • This is parodied in the episode of South Park, "Asspen", where Stan gets trapped (metaphorically, not literally) in a crappy 1980s "win-the-race-to-save-the-old-rec-center" movie. In the final climactic race between Stan and the annoying jerk, the jerk takes a ridiculous amount of time sabotaging the course to keep Stan from winning. Of course, the jerk is an excellent skier, and Stan had only learned to ski the previous day. Stan goes so slowly than he just climbs over the barricades easily, and the jerk spends much time on his sabotage that he ends up losing.
  • Jack Spicer in Xiaolin Showdown has done this a few times before.
  • In COPS, Classy Cat Burglar Nightshade enters a beauty contest to get at the "fabulous prizes" offered (and to rub it in the face of the C.O.P.S. that she hadn't done anything wrong). Naturally, she can't resist making off with the entire prize hoard. Equally naturally, once she's caught, she's informed that if she'd held off for five minutes, she would've won legitimately.
  • In an episode of Johnny Test, during a race, a pair of villains stop to cheat (or plan to) twice while they're already in the lead. One of the two tries to tell the other that they're already winning. The other one says that his plan is going to make sure they stay in the lead.
  • Constantly employed by the Vanguard of Justice in the Heavy Gear CGI TV series.
  • A Cow and Chicken episode featured Cow and Chicken's snail cousin, who entered a relay race because it was the only way Chicken's team would not be disqualified for not having enough members. Being a snail, he was quite slow but his opponent insisted on stopping to cheat despite the fact they could have easily won. (Even Chicken pointed it out to the cheaters. Snail crossed the finish line first and then revealed to have a normal set of legs and started running. He later admitted he didn't think about doing it during the race.
  • Done in Thundarr the Barbarian, well except that there wasn't really any cheating in a race that explicitly had no rules. Nonetheless, everyone else in the race took a commanding lead in their wizard-provided vehicles and robots, and only lost because they decided to hang back and kill their competition instead of, you know, just winning.
  • Lippy the Lion and Hardy Har Har once applied for a job as truckers and, to get it, they had to defeat the other applicant in a truck race. Their opponent invoked the trope, which allowed them to take the lead, then they invoked the trope, which allowed the opponent to regain the lead.
  • In the Looney Tunes cartoon "Tortoise Wins By A Hare," Bugs Bunny's attempt to win the race against the Tortoise by cheating backfires gruesomely.
  • In The Owl House episode "Convention", Luz unwisely challenges Amnity to a Wizard Duel, despite knowing next to nothing about actual magic. While Amnity could have defeated Luz easily, her mentor Lilith can't resist the opportunity to humiliate her sister's protege, and uses a power glyph on Amnity to make her stronger. When caught, her excuse is she knew Eda would cheat (and she was right) but with both Lilith and Eda cheating, both Luz and Amnity are disqualified. Which leads to a real Wizard Duel (and a lot of collateral damage) between Eda and Lilith.

Real Life

  • Watergate, quite famously, was Dick Nixon attempting to rig an election he was guaranteed to win by an enormous landslide anyway, thus losing him the presidency when he had to resign. Harry S. Truman once said he was the kind of guy who'd lie even when he didn't need to just to keep his hand in.
  • And then repeated in Iran, when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad did not need to rig the election (as alleged) to win ( though he might have needed it to put him over 50% and avoid a runoff), but he did anyway. As a result, hundreds of thousands of protesters flooded the streets of Tehran and other cities, and Iran got the closest to a revolution it has been in 30 years.
  • Exactly the same thing happened in Afghanistan, where polls before the election showed incumbent Karzai with a substantial lead (anywhere between 10-15%) over his strongest opponent, Abdullah Abdullah. And yet, he very poorly and very obviously stole an election he most likely would have had anyway. Really, he makes Ahmadinejad look like a straight shooter in this regard. Of course, he also had the incentive of winning outright and avoiding a runoff.
  • Mob turncoat Henry Hill described how his boss, Paul Vario, had over a million dollars (in cash) in his house acquired through illegal means, and would then take his wife out to dinner with a stolen credit card (risking arrest, jail, and embarrassment). Other turncoats and undercovers have confirmed it's a cultural thing with the Mob; never use your own money unless you absolutely have to.